Uganda: Government Yet to Reward Special Olympics Medallists

Kampala — The waiting uncomfortably goes on as medallists from the 15th edition of the Special Olympics World Games that concluded last week in Abu Dhabi are yet to be rewarded.

The 33-man team collected nine medals, four from swimming and athletics, two silvers from Feni and the volleyball team. Elizabeth Nicole, Gorret Nakitende and Brian Elimu scooped bronze medals. Only the football team failed to get any medal.

But since the team returned last week, there has been no communication to the National Council of Sports (NCS) as to when the athletes would be rewarded with the usual Shs5m for a gold medal, Shs3m for silver and Shs1m for bronze. This accumulates to a combined Shs29m in rewards from the Presidential rewards scheme.

Swimmer Larry Feni Graig won a gold in the 25m breaststroke while sprinter Jacent Nyamahunde is a double gold medallist in 200 and 100m running. Rogger Agenrwoth is the other gold medallist from open water swimming after conquering the 1500m distance in the sea.

Desperate calls

The national director of Special Olympics Uganda, Genevieve Bamwidhukire earlier this week confirmed that she is in touch with government to have the team hosted by President Museveni although some parents feel their children's thunder could be stolen. Some are desperately trying to use personal connections to reach the President Museveni.

"The process is too slow yet our children made the country proud. These athletes need to be recognised," said a parent who asked not to be named. His son is among the medallists.

The team was further undermined by the way they departed Kampala for the games reserved for people with intellectual disability. There was no send-off and their return was a low key event with no media coverage as only two TV stations, Bukedde and Ark, were interested in their arrival.

Whereas Minister Charles Bakkabulindi and the NCS chairman Bosco Onyik as well as the acting general secretary Patrick Ogwel, attended the opening ceremony, they briefly met the football and volleyball teams for a photo-shoot at their base in Abu Dhabi at Al Mafraq Hotel, they never watched any games until they returned to Kampala.

Ogwel, who could comment on the matter is away to the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Denmark, but Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo, the NCS Corporate Affairs Officer said that any announcements could be made next week.

Special Olympics medallists

GOLD

Jacent Nyamahunde - 200m & 100m

Larry Feni - 25m breaststroke

Rogger Agenorwoth - open water swimming

SILVER

Larry Feni - 50m freestyle

Volleyball unified team

BRONZE

Elizabeth Nicole - 50m freestyle

Gorret Nakitende - 25m breaststroke

Brian Elimu - 25m breaststroke

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