The fate of several para-athletes participating in the commonwealth games hangs in balance.
This follows their failure to take part in the two qualifiers in Dubai and South Africa respectively to book their slots for the 2022 Birmingham events.
Uganda was supposed to send several para Athletes to the World Para Athletics Grand Prix that took part in Dubai from March 21 to 24 2022.
However, this didn’t happen because the Paralympic committee failed to secure funds to facilitate the team, according to innocent Tumwesigye, the General Secretary of the Uganda Paralympic committee.
Consequently, the only chance that was left for Uganda’s para Athletes was a trip to South Africa for the ASA Athletics Grand Prix Continental Tour Challenger, which was sponsored by the Commonwealth Games organizers.
Still, the para-athletes missed the opportunity following a miscommunication between the Uganda Olympic Committee and the athletes who were supposed to travel to South Africa.
Tumwesigye told URN in an interview that the two events that the Paralympic Committee was counting on to qualify para-athletes, leave their fate hanging in balance.
“The trip to Dubai failed because the government did not have money, those of Masisa and Ocira were supposed to go to Dubai but they did not go because the government did not have money.
They didn’t go to South Africa’s trip because of communication challenges between UOC and the organizers, they never gave clear information, and update us on what was supposed to take place, he said.
Adding that; “There must be a miscommunication between the athletes and the Olympic committee because they communicate directly.
We are waiting to see what can happen if they can let us schedule them another qualifier or if they can give them a wild card, there is nothing clear” James Senkugu, a para-athletics coach for Fred Masisa told URN that it was a tough moment for his athlete to miss the qualifiers after spending a lot of time in preparations.
“It was very hard because we inject in a lot of time and money, preparing an athlete for those events and they miss the cation after affects them mentally. We had focused on the south Africa event because it was sponsored by the commonwealth organizers,” Ssenkungu noted.
Adding that; “Those were the only events sanctioned by the international Paralympics games and the qualifiers end in mid-April, which leaves the chances of the athlete to qualify for commonwealth games in suspicion.”
Senkungu further said that their main focus was on ASA Athletics Grand Prix in South Africa after realizing that it was fully sponsored, but the late communication from the Uganda Olympic Committee put an end to their quest to use the event for qualification.
“Initially the organizers in south Africa were communicating to the players directly, but after they told us they pass the information through the Uganda Olympic committee, which left us with no information about the vent whatsoever,” Senkungu stated.
Adding that “Just two days to the event is when we were informed by Uganda Olympic Committee that we had to travel to South Africa, we rushed, but we could not process all the documents in a period of just two days and therefore our athletes missed the qualifiers like that,”
Geofrey Otim, another coach whose athlete, Richard Ocira was supposed to take part in the qualifiers in South Africa told URN that the athlete has since lost hope after missing the South African event.
“It is absurd news for the para-athletes. The boy is very frustrated he cried for three days, the boy is demoralized up to now, he does want to train, I took him to church to cancelling but he is still frustrated, it is already painful, organizing an athlete for the event and they miss is very frustrating. me as a coach I have nowhere to begin from,” Otim told URN.
Our attempts to get a comment from the Uganda Olympic Committee were futile as the general secretary, Beatrice Ayikoru said that she did not have any information about the qualifiers.
She referred our reporter to Moses Mwase, the chef de mission who is currently out of the country.
During the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Uganda had four representatives including Peace Oroma, Husna Kukundakwe, David Emong, and Ritah Asiimwe. Only Among managed to win a bronze in the men’s 1500m T46 category
Tumwesigye confirmed that Uganda has already qualified one para swimmer in Husna Kukundakwe as they wait for another group of powerlifters and Table Tennis players who will go to Birmingham for the qualifiers in April.
“We have one who has already qualified, the para swimmer called Husna who qualified from Italy. Now we have two powerlifters whom we are taking to Birmingham next month and then four table tennis players next month in Birmingham,” Tumweigye told URN.