Kampala — None of the Ugandan para-rowers won a single event in last week's Para-rowing International regatta but the three debutants returned from Gavirate, Italy in chest thumping mood.
Coach William Mwanga said his athletes Vaster Kyalimpa, Amir Kapere and Tadeo Kintu, all in Arms and Shoulders (AS) category, were timid in the earlier races but soon adjusted to the competition environment and improved steadily in the subsequent events. Particularly, Kapere was Uganda's best performer, finishing most of the 2000 metres fifth, fourth and third in the ultimate race. His personal best was 12:48:02 minutes in men's single sculls Heat 2. But it was his fourth position finish that he relishes most.
He retells the experience: "No one believed that I had beaten a Mzungu, and all his teammates made fun of him," Kapere said in reference to his finish two seconds above Poland's Leszek Niewiarowski in the men's single sculls.
"I feel stronger and motivated because most of our opponents came with superior boats, but we train with old-fashioned boats. They train more but we had more power than them. With better training, I believe we can do even better."
Coach Mwanga said their opponents were only better because they train more and are better facilitated; "otherwise my team impressed me; we have potential." He added that the organisers were equally impressed by Team Uganda's performance and FISA, the international rowing body, promised to send them some boats and facilitate a regional regatta later this year.