KAMPALA. The Saleh twins Fadhil and Nabil will unfortunately not take on each other in their favourite event – the 50m freestyle when they represent Uganda at the 14th World Short-course Swimming Championship that start Tuesday in Hangzhou, China.
The rules dictate that: an individual entry for a swimmer without an “A” (21.71) or “B” (22.47) Standard Entry Time must be in an event where no other swimmer from the National Federation has been entered.
Nabil with the stronger 50m free therefore got his favourite event and the 50m butterfly too. Fadhil, on the other hand, has one of their preferred – 100m free – and will also give the 200m free ago.
“We definitely would have liked to do it together,” Nabil told SCORE on phone ahead of their trip from South Africa to China, where they will team up with Uganda-based Selina Katumba, Avice Meya and coach Abel Ddamulira.
Beyond their new training program and diets, the Electric Eels and St Peter’s College Johannesburg 17 year olds have developed a sibling rivalry that spurs them on in the pool.
“I can’t remember the last time I did 50free without him (Fadhil) on the side but this will offer something different. I am sure he will equally feel the same away in the 100m free.”
However, the two know better than dwelling on what they cannot control. The chance to compete at the world stage outweighs lots of things for now – after all they only started representing Uganda in 2014 when Nabil won nine gold medals at the Cana Zone III and IV Championships in Kampala.
They have since been household names in swimming circles and will hope to continue shining like they have done at various Zone IV and continental championships.
Their debut off the continent came in Italy in June when they represented Gauteng Province. They will be the first to admit that they could have done better but China offers a chance to show how much they learnt especially in terms of how to acclimatize as they were troubled by the times and weather.
“I do not feel the pressure is on us. We have swum for Uganda many times and we shall aim at improving our times,” Fadhil, who is relishing the exposure and the stepping stone offered to them, said.
“I am a sprinter but I am not afraid to the 200 free. I have had to train for it. I know I cannot lose any fitness,” Fadhil said.
Fortunately, for morale, they will have their best supporter in their mother Patricia Isabirye by the side.
“We easily get along with our teammates. We have been with Selina and Avice at various championships and we already have a good bond with coach Abel. But no one really understands our emotions like mum. The galas we have done without her have not really been tough but different,” Nabil, who has had to recovery from bouts of sickness and tough championships in the past, said.
Fadhil also feels this call-up shows that “with more training we can get closer to making the bigger events like the World Championships (long-course) and Olympics.”
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (25M) EVENTS – UGANDA
Selina Katumba: 100m free (1:04.50)
50m free (29.16)
Avice Meya: 100m IM (1:12.14)
100m fly (1:12.25)
Nabil Saleh: 50m free (24.55)
50m fly (27.28)
Fadhil Saleh: 200m free (2:08.04)
100 free (54.80)
Names: Fadhil Saleh
Father: Hassan Saleh
Mother: Patricia Isabirye
Date of Birth: May 16, 2001
School: St Peter’s College, Johannesburg
Club: Electric Eels, SA