William Santino Dralu – Uganda’s Short-Sprints’ Champion

Although Uganda has never significantly nurtured champions in the short sprints at the international level, one William Santino Dralu achieved a reasonable level of significance in the realm, during the late 1960’s and in the 1970’s. Dralu has endured, for fifty years, in Uganda’s history as a prominent Ugandan sprinter, more specifically in the 100m and 200m dashes, and in the sprint relays. Even after decades, Dralu continues to be an inspiration for Uganda sprinters. The level of international participation of Ugandan track and field athletes, continues to be disproportionately significant in the middle- and long-distances realm; leaving a dearth of athletic representation in the sprints and in the field events.

In 1969, at the East and Central African Championships (an annual track and field battle initially between, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania), William Santino Dralu achieved his biggest international accomplishments by winning in the 100m dash with a time of 10.5 seconds. This meet was held in Dralu’s home country, in the capital of Kampala in Uganda. Significantly, in the same year, Dralu established a 100m dash national record of 10.1s, a Uganda record that has endured for four decades. The record was set in the Uganda capital, Kampala, on August 8, 1969. This was an excellent record, given that the world record at that time was 9.9 seconds. Prestigiously, with this timing of 10.1, in the international Track and Field statistics, William Dralu would be ranked third in the world in 1969 (along with Charles Greene and John Carlos of USA , Pablo Montes of Cuba, Edwin Roberts of Trinidad, Melvin Pender of USA, and Detlef Lewandowski and Hermann Burde of the German Democratic Republic). Hermes Ramirez of Cuba, and Valeriy Borzov of the Soviet Union, both with a personal best timing of 10.0 in the 100m dash were respectively ranked first and second.

It is in Pietersburg in South Africa, on March 11 in 1998, that Ugandan Moses Mila equaled the Uganda record by a hand-timed 10.1 seconds. However, on website iaaf.org, Moses Mila’s personal best is listed as 10.48s and achieved in Johannesburg in South Africa, on March 27, 1998. At the same track meet, Moses Mila, according to the iaaf.org, ran his personal best in the 200m dash, a timing of 20.63s, on the same day.

Muscular William Dralu stood at a relatively tall 6′ 0″. He was born on June 27, 1947, in the east African country of Uganda. Dralu’s achievements at the Olympics, held previously in 1968 in Mexico City, were much less flattering than his achievements in 1969. At the Olympics of 1968, 21 year-old Dralu was enlisted to compete in the 100m and 200m dash. As for the 200m dash, in Heat 5 of the first round, Dralu was disappointingly eliminated after running in 6th with a time of 21.38s. His personal best of 21.1s would be achieved in the following year of 1968. In the 100m dash, Dralu was similarly eliminated very early, turning out to be 7th in Heat 1 of Round 1, timed at 10.8 seconds. At the Olympics of 1968, Dralu’s ultimate performance rank is 59th (of 66 competitors) in the 100m dash and 36th (of 49 competitors) in the 200m dash.

The next Olympics would be held in the summer of 1972 in Munich in Germany. Santino Dralu’s achievements would, again, be inconspicuous at the Olympics. In the 100m dash, 25 year-old Dralu was seventh in just Round One (Heat 6), in a time of 10.92s. Even in the 200m, Dralu was eliminated from moving further on, after ending up 6th in Heat 6 of round one, Dralu timed at 21.87s. Significantly, Dralu’s performance at the 1972 Olympics, was generally no better than his performance at the previous Olympics. At the Olympics of 1972, Dralu’s final performance rank is 67th (out of 90 competitors) in the 100m dash, and 48th (out of 66 competitors) in the 200m dash.

The next significant international track gathering took place in Christchurch in New Zealand from January 24-February 2, 1974. These were the British Commonwealth Games which are held after every four years. William Dralu was part of the Uganda 4×400 meters relay team that won bronze (3.07.45), behind the winning Kenya team (in 3.04:43); and the British team (3.06.66) which won silver. The other runners in the Uganda relay team were Pius Olowo, Samuel Kakonge, and Silver Ayoo. This is the only occasion, so far, that Uganda has achieved medal status in either the Olympic or British Commonwealth Games.

The East and Central African Athletics Championships of 1976 were held in May of 1976 in Tanzania. This was a quite exciting duel between the participating countries, the events including many world class athletes. Uganda managed to win, overall, beating favored Kenya. In the 200m final, legendary Kenyan sprinter Charles Asati managed to ward off Dralu. Asati would win in 21.2 seconds, Dralu would be second in 21.5 seconds, and John Mwebi of Kenya third in 21.6 seconds. At age 29, this would be one of Dralu’s prestigious performances.

By participating, and even being ranked highly, at world level; and by emerging among the top sprinters in several national and regional events during the 1960’s and 1970’s, William Santino Dralu has maintained legendary national status as one of the foremost of Uganda’s sprinters.



Source by Jonathan Musere

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