When Husnah Kukundakwe begun swimming at the age of five, she was probably the youngest para-swimmer in Uganda. Now 12, she is the most famous, having competed at two world swimming events: in Singapore in May, and London in September. She could also get the wildcard for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
But she is glad she is no longer the youngest in Uganda. At the National Paralympic Games in Mbarara last year, Kukundakwe beat a pool of para-swimmers, some old enough to be her father.
At this year’s edition in Mpigi last weekend, Kukundakwe jumped into the pool with her seniors like Anthony Opio, and four others, who are younger than her.
Interestingly, the two boys and two girls are all under the stewardship of Coach Collins Matovu of Malta Swim Club, who trained Kukundakwe the art of swimming.
They are 10-year old Precious Nankunda, 10 who won relays bronze for Sir Apollo Kaggwa Primary School at the Midland Schools event in March; Hermione Kyeserwa, 9, Rodney Ainomugisha, 10, of Trinity Primary School and Adel Ndusa, 10, of Aga Khan Primary School.
“I enjoyed this event and I’m happy for these young para-swimmers. It means in future international events I will no longer be alone,” Kukundakwe said at Lidalex Hotel poolside.
She also advised parents to support their handicapped children to do sports. To the children themselves who want to be like her, “Believe in yourself, chase your dream, you will make it,” she said.
Last year, after impressing in training camps in Nairobi and Korea, Kukundakwe joined Dolphins, the country’s most coveted swim club, but she is happy that Malta is continuing its legacy of giving children with disabilities a swimming chance.