Little to celebrate as wrangles surface
Posted Wednesday, January 2 2013 at 02:00
Edwin Ekiring may not want to remember the past season as he miserably failed to deliver but the game also suffered locally as wrangles emerged.
For any individual sport say badminton, chess, tennis, woodball or darts, it is always easy to draw conclusions or summarise a player’s performance. Ugandan badminton ace Edwin Ekiring may not say it but 2012 did not bring the results he had anticipated for.
Quite evidently, last year presented more success to the 29-year-old. Ekiring enjoyed a successful 2011 season winning a silver medal at the All Africa Games in Maputo, gold at the Botswana International and silver at the South Africa International.
His performance for Dutch club Amsterfoort had also been top notch as the team qualified for the European finals. And the dreams of course had grown bigger this time round. But he did not raise the country’s flag that high but still all was not lost.
The greatest of all could have been making it to the 30th edition of the Olympics in London last summer.
It was the second time he was representing the country in the men’s singles.
Ekiring started the year on a bad note, suffering 2-0 defeat to Italy’s Wisnu Hary Putro at the Uganda International Open in February.
By then, he had his head buried in his hands as he was not yet sure of his qualification to the Olympics.
His incessant hard work at the subsequent Iran International, Thomas and Uber Cup tournaments in Ethiopia paid off two months later.
Continental body Confederation of African Badminton wrote to him to confirm his slot to the Games after he had risen to number 97 in the world ranking, the highest for him todate. Unfortunately his spell with the Irish badminton team in Dublin prior to London Games did not help that much.
Disaster fell as Ekiring bowed out of the Olympics after suffering a two straight set loss to Hong Kong’s Wing Wong Ki. Ki defeated the African top seed 21-10 and 21-8 at the Wembley Arena. Ekiring had earlier failed to shine against Frenchman Brice Leverdez, who also beat him 2-0.
The Black Pearl’s second outing at the world’s biggest Games was just like the first. Four years ago, he was eliminated at the round of 32 by South Korean Park Sung-Hwan in two straight sets at the Beijing Technology of Gymnasium.
On the local scene, the season climax was marred with lots of controversies. Senior players (43 male and six female) did not show up at the Bank of Baroda Open at the Lugogo Arena.
All the three male top seeds; Wilson Tukire, Brian Suuna and Fred Kirabo refused to take part with several reasons centered around national team coach Simon Mugabi. They were demanding him to quit the sport with reasons to do with his conduct towards players.
But 17-year-old Daniel Mihigo was not bothered. He defeated Davis Senono 21-19 21-16 to win the men’s singles title in the last Uganda Badminton Association (UBA) calendar event. Players received invitational letters that required a registration fee of Shs5,000 per event (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) which had not been the case before according to Kirabo. The letters were issued out by Mugabi.
Further more, the players questioned Mugabi’s position in UBA whether he is a coach or treasurer. “When we go for big tournaments abroad, he is rarely by the court-side to offer advice as a coach. He is ever seated with the delegates,” revealed Kirabo. “A times when we try to tell him our issues, he threatens to end our careers,” disclosed another player who preferred anonymity.
Herbert Ebayo, an under-19 player also shunned the season ender and vowed never to play again until Mugabi quits the sport. It is alleged that Mugabi denied Ebayo a ticket to Isles of Man in 2011 and Mihigo took on the opportunity because the former had spoken ill about the coach in the media.
But Mugabi retaliated; “I got most of them from the streets when they were beggars and I have helped them to dress up and play badminton,” Mugabi, who started serving the sport in 1986, shot back.