The atmosphere at Nawab Restaurant on Garden City’s rooftop was largely tranquil as Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) marked a successful inaugural awards dinner on Saturday.
Being the first ever local swimming awards, guests and swimmers had to brave a long list of honours dished out to sponsors, former and current administrators, including chief guest Dr Maggie Kigozi, for their contributions to the sport over the years. It was only fair.
However, the trend of awarding careers rather than 2015 achievements, seemed the norm.
Arnold Kisulo beat an absent Joshua Ekirikubinza to the Best Senior Male Swimmer award but the choice left many surprised.
When it came to best male junior swimmer, it was quite obvious the 2015 displays counted for little.
Master of ceremonies, Max Kanyerezi, read out Nabil Saleh’s achievements from 2014 rather than 2015 where Ambala Atuhaire and Tendo Mukalazi ran the winner close. “We had a long debate about it (best male swimmer) but we used a criteria to award points and arrive to this,” USF president Dr Donald Rukare, laboured to explain.
Ekirikubinza, based in USA, set two personal bests at the World Championships held in August in Kazan, Russia. He cut 72 microseconds to clock 33:00 for the 50m breaststroke before clocking 25:54 for the 50m freestyle but was perhaps undone by not so outstanding local performances. Kisulo, despite a forgettable performance in Kazan, led Uganda to a stellar display at the inaugural Cana Zone III Champions and his club Dolphins to first place at the USF inter-club gala and fifth place in the Kenya Longcourse Age Group and Open Championship.
Earlier there had been near-universal ratification as Dolphins’ Muzafaru Muwanguzi and another absentee Jamila Lunkuse bagged the Best Coach and Senior Female Swimmers’ awards respectively.
Despite a tough 2015, Lunkuse remains Uganda’s only female hope for the Rio Olympics in August.
“Muzafaru is in his own class. We can only emulate and try to follow in his footsteps,” Aga Khan coach Tony Kasujja said.
Dr Kigozi, who headed the swimming body in 2003, pledged land to construct an Olympic size pool as long as the current leaders can secure funds for the construction.
Best senior male: Arnold Kisulo
Best senior female: Jamila Lunkuse
Best junior male: Nabil Saleh
Best junior female: Rebecca Ssengonzi
Best masters female: Kate Kizza
Best masters male: Latif Kajumbi
Best coach: Muzafaru Muwanguzi
Best primary school: Greenhill Academy
Best secondary school: Greenhill
Best club: Dolphins