KAMPALA. Uganda’s Thailand-based swimmer Atuhaire Ambala is not getting ahead of himself as he prepares for his four events at the 18th Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Africa.
Atu, as he is commonly called, is only set to participate for his second international competition having been at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas in 2017.
It has been only two years but a lot has had to change for the 18 year old swimmer. In Bahamas, the then Kenyan-based swimmer was sure to curve out a career as Uganda’s main international mid-distance swimmer.
The dream lives on but since shifting base to Thailand, where he is on a scholarship since last year, he has re-shifted focus to sprinting.
“Since it was a new environment, my coach felt that I should focus on sprints for a while,” Atu told SCORE shortly before he left for South Korea on Wednesday night.
The change put him in a good place to stem off competition in the 17 and over age group at the May Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) National Championships, which also doubled as qualifiers for a host of international and continental events.
“I have been focused on sprinting since I came here and after the World Championships we shall sit down and re-assess my options with the coach.”
Atuhaire was selected for the Worlds – alongside Tendo Mukalazi, Selina Katumba and Avice Meya – but is also in the squad expected to go to the August 21-24 All Africa Games in Morocco.
“I am honoured to represent my country and very happy for my teammates,” he added. He will be re-united with the girls that he swum with at the Cana Seniors in Algeria last September while Mukalazi comes in for Adnan Kabuye.
The quartet have two relays – Uganda’s first relays in an international gala. As an individual, Atuhaire is tipped to beat his own times; a 24.89 done in the 50m free event at the Africa Youth Games in Algeria in June last year and the 55.55 clocked in the 100m freestyle at the Singapore Open on June 19.
Both times could be national records, pending confirmation from USF, but Atuhaire isn’t getting carried away by past glory.
“Honestly, I try not to think of such things,” Atu said.
“My coaches believe that if I get things like my technique, starts and turns right then I will be able to have a personal best. So rather than focus on times, I am focusing on various aspects that we have been working on,” he added.
“I just want to leave the pool satisfied with my efforts.”
SELECTED MAJOR GALAS SINCE 2015
2019. Fina World Championships, SouthKorea Uganda National Championships,
2018. Cana Seniors, Algeria Africa Youth Games, Algeria Uganda National
Commonwealth Youth Games, Bahamas Cana Junior, Egypt.
Cana Zone IV, Mauritius
Cana Zone IV, Angola
Cana Zone III, Uganda
FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
JULY 24: 100m freestyle (55.55)
4*100m medley relay
JULY 26: 50m freestyle (25.04)
JULY 27: 4*100m freestyle relay