Even without official communication from the National Paralympic Committee, Christine Akullo, Sam Mubajje and Al-Bashir Bwaga have given up on the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships which get underway tomorrow in London.
The three qualified for the London meet, but will miss what the Paralympic committee president Mpindi Bumali called ‘a very expensive event with so many strings attached’.
The silver lining though is that, the athletes’ frustration for missing out on an international event is as strong as their will to remain on track.
As 2016 Paralympic silver medallist David Emong returns to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, alone, seeking to better his fourth place finish at the London 2012 Paralympics, his would-be teammates back home, will be resuming personal training with hope for the ‘distant’ Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Australia in April 2018.
“Of course it is painful to train and miss the event, but what do you do?” said the Soroti-based Akullo, who won Gold at the 2011 All-Africa Games in Maputo.
“I almost gave up when I missed the Olympics last year, but my friends advised me to return; I’ll keep training and hope for better fortunes for the Commonwealth.”
Mubajje, a 100m T47 runner, has been disappointed twice: first, he missed the 2015 All-Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville, where Akullo won her second gold. But he says: “I am deeply hurt, missing out on an international debut but let me give it another chance and train for future events, you never know.” His training mate Bwaga shares the view.
Where is our money?
Amid the frustration of missing out on two consecutive world events, Akullo at least wants her State House allowance to come consistently. The visually-impaired 100m runner is entitled to Shs5m per month, as a Presidential reward for her gold at the 2015 All-Africa Games.
“Why doesn’t our money come in time?” she queries. “I think I have received money for only three months; not just me but many other athletes are complaining.”
By Ugandan standards, Shs5m monthly, if handled well, can give the athlete a decent life; enhance their career by funding training and buying equipment.