When Joshua Cheptegei crossed the line first to win gold in the 5,000 metres at Tokyo 2020, he confirmed Uganda's best-ever Olympic performance.

The now 25-year-old, who was running with a heel injury, had been forced to settle for silver over 10,000m but could not be caught over half the distance in front of a deserted Olympic Stadium.

Cheptegei, the world record holder in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, was not a surprise winner with a world title and Commonwealth Games success already on his CV.

But his gold followed a bonus Uganda victory in the women's 3,000m steeplechase, where Peruth Chemutai came home for a shock title.

Most of the attention had been on past world champions Beatrice Chepkoech, Emma Coburn and Hyvin Kiyeng but Chemutai got the better of all of them to become Uganda's first female Olympic gold medallist.

Never before had Uganda won two golds at the same Olympics, while the four medals won in total was also a record.

Uganda finished 36th on the medal table and were the second best team from Africa, behind only Kenya.

The success has whetted the appetite for sport in the country and work is underway to ensure that the good times continue at the next major event on the calendar - the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in July and August.

Joshua Cheptegei's gold at Tokyo 2020 ensured Uganda's best Olympics ©Getty Images
Joshua Cheptegei's gold at Tokyo 2020 ensured Uganda's best Olympics ©Getty Images

"We have never been that successful at the Olympics," said Moses Mwase, the Uganda Chef de Mission for Birmingham 2022, to insidethegames

"It set the bar very high and expectations are equally high for the Commonwealth Games. 

"People are excited so we need to ensure that the building blocks are all in place. 

"We are certainly expectant as far as the medals are concerned. We want to defend the medals we won at Gold Coast 2018, and also get some more, but not only in athletics. We are setting our eyes on medals in different sporting disciplines."

Uganda is planning to send a delegation of between 120 and 140 people to Birmingham, with places already confirmed in athletics, swimming, badminton, boxing, cycling and netball.

In netball, where the country are ranked sixth in the world, there are hopes of upsetting the sport's dominant trio of Australia, England and New Zealand and gate-crashing the podium.

There are also hopes of qualifying in 3x3 basketball, rugby sevens, table tennis and weightlifting.

At the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Uganda won three gold medals including a memorable 5,000m/10,000m double from Cheptegei.

"It was a proud moment," said Mwase, who was the country's general manager at the Games in Australia.

"We were proud to be Ugandan, it was a surreal moment. 

"I remember very vividly the victory ceremony, we were shouting ourselves hoarse because we were so proud. 

"We would love to have a repeat of that. Cheptegei inspired many young athletes and we look forward to re-living those glorious days by continuing to support our athletes in every way possible."

Uganda is hoping the country's track stars will all compete in Birmingham, but the close proximity of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon has caused a logistical headache. 

Birmingham 2022 is due to open just four days after the end of the flagship World Athletics event on July 28, meaning it is unclear whether athletes will compete at both.

As well as Cheptegei and Chemutai, Ugandan talents to watch out for include Jacob Kiplimo, the Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist in Tokyo whose superb shift over half the distance helped power his more illustrious team-mate to his title.

At Gold Coast 2018, Stella Chesang won women's 10,000m gold.

Uganda's netball team are ranked sixth in the world and have hopes of sneaking into the medals at Birmingham 2022 ©Getty Images
Uganda's netball team are ranked sixth in the world and have hopes of sneaking into the medals at Birmingham 2022 ©Getty Images

"It's desirable to have our best team and obviously we're working to ensure that they are available," said Mwase, a vice-president of the Ugandan Olympic Committee and the President of the country's swimming federation.

"World Athletics are holding their key competition around the same time in Oregon, so we are working to ensure the Commonwealth Games are attractive for our athletes to be able to come, also from a patriotic point of view for them to come and ensure that the Ugandan flag continues to fly high. 

"It's a work in progress, and we need to deal with several things that impact high-level athletes like Cheptegei. 

"We had some lovely surprises in Tokyo, in Peruth Chemutai, and we're hoping to carry through the same and build on that.

"If we can synchronise the calendars for the athletes and enable them to compete at events while winning, that's something which will enable us I think to leave Birmingham 2022 with wide smiles on our faces." 

Uganda's Tokyo 2020 performance has been noticed by the Government, and sporting officials are confident they will be backed on the road to Birmingham with increased funding. Sporting budgets had been slashed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plans to build new facilities - including two stadiums being bankrolled by the Chinese Government - are also said to be back on track following delays caused by coronavirus. 

"We have prepared a schedule with major timelines of things that we need to have in place, to get Uganda ready for the Commonwealth Games," said Mwase.

"We are scheduling some follow up meetings with the different federations.

"The other thing we are working on is to ensure we get our funding ready. We get funding support from the Government and we have prepared a budget which I need to discuss with them. 

"I'm hoping to do that in the coming weeks and we're hoping to lock that in by the end of January. Obviously, after the success of the Olympics, the Government is very much interested in funding this and they have given their commitment.

"So we're working out the figures, the numbers.

"This excites us and should enable us to prepare better and put our best foot forward for Birmingham 2022."

Mwase competed in numerous sports at amateur level - describing himself as a "jack of all trades" - and studied at the ISDE Business School of Law in Madrid.

Uganda has already welcomed the Queen's Baton Relay for Birmingham 2022 which helped build enthusiasm for the Games. The celebrations included an appearance from the first lady and a visit to a chimpanzee sanctuary near Lake Victoria.

Peruth Chemutai won a surprise steeplechase gold for Uganda at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Peruth Chemutai won a surprise steeplechase gold for Uganda at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

"The Commonwealth Games have gained a lot of traction, especially after Gold Coast 2018," Mwase said. 

"Everyone is looking forward to it and you can tell from the Queen's Baton Relay that the whole country is in tune and is following it. 

"It's the second biggest after the Olympics.

"Obviously our biggest point of nervousness is COVID, everyone just wants things to get back to normal. 

"We are hoping that Birmingham will be the very first Games where we will have a 'real' sporting event. 

"We had a very weird Olympics, a very unusual Olympics, in Tokyo. 

"It was different to what we are accustomed to. We are just hoping that Birmingham will bring a little bit of normalcy. 

"But of course we know that with COVID things might just never be the same. So we'll make do with what is available and what the organisers can manage to put in place."