Beijing — Uganda's campaign at the 29th Olympiad got off to a terible stutter yesterday after Mubarak Kivumbi was disqualified from competing. The weightlifter was meant to kick-start Uganda's pursuit of elusive Olympic medals but was ruled out of the 56kg category competition at the Beijing University of Aerunatics and Astronautics Gymnasium after weighing in at 61.6kgs.
Kivumbi, the country's lone representative in one of the oldest sporting disciplines in the Olympic fold, had expected to compete in the 62kg category before being shocked to be off the competition start list.
Kivumbi's coach Larney Kimbowa was at pains to explain the mishap yesterday, crying foul over the lack of help from the authorities on the issue.
"Traditionally, you declare a lifter's category and his total. But at the technical meeting here on August 7, we found new rules which stated that any category entered during the accreditation period (February this year) should be the one for competition," Kimbowa laboured at the Games Village yesterday.
"We asked them why they were telling us now and not earlier, and they didn't have an answer. We pleaded with the Competitons Secretary and even tried to seek audience with the president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) but it seemed they didn't want us to see him.
"Even Mr Salim Musoke who is our weightlifting president in Uganda tried to see the officials, as did Mr Gabriel Oloka, all in vain. When we got to the venue, Kivumbi's name was not where it should be and a quick weigh in proved it. The secretary was not available and the IWF office was empty," Kimbowa explained.
"So we were asked to leave a written letter and told that our Chef De Mission (Roger Ddungu) should go see the officials in the afternoon. I will go with him myself because they might need technical information. But that will be after the minister's visit to the Village later. Let us hope they will allow him to compete in the 62kg tomorrow (today) "
Kimbowa was put to task to explain the same thing all over again when Sports Minister Charles Bakkabulindi visited the Village later.
"So, what is going on with the weightlifter? I don't want any monkey tricks here, you are supposed to be representing your country, not individuals," the minister quipped during his address, before he was calmed down with an explanation of the origin of the weight discrepancy.
Kivumbi, a son to the Uganda Olympic Committee's Treasurer Salim Musoke, was also involved in controversy at the All Africa Games in Algiers last year when a lift that should have sent him into the medal bracket was ruled out by the judges. Musoke is in Beijing at the invitation of the International Olympic Committee along with Oloka.
Kivumbi's malaise leaves badminton star Edwin Ekiring as the first Ugandan to taste action today when he takes on Park Sung Hwan at 8:35 pm (3:35pm Ugandan time).
The African top seed, winner of a bronze medal at the All Africa Games in Algiers last year, meets Park in the round of 32 after the South Korean beat Andrew Dabeka of Canada 2-0 (21-11, 21-11). Quietly confident despite being ranked way below his opponent, Ekiring was relaxed at the Village yesterday.
"I know all about him, we were together at the World Junior Championships although we did not face each other," revealed the man who has honed his skills at the Olympic Solidarity camp in Germany before becoming a professional in Holland.