Ugandan swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe’s debut appearance at the World Championships in London has been named among the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC’s) Top 10 Moments of 2019.
Kukundakwe’s debut tied with three other events at number four in the ongoing countdown that has received rave reviews on various social media platforms.
“This gives me the courage to continue with the sport and inspire more children with disabilities to engage in sports locally and internationally,” Kukundakwe, who has had to learn her trade by swimming with able-bodied swimmers, told Daily Monitor in the aftermath of her recognition.
Explaining the reason behind the recognition, paralympics.org noted that “few before her have managed to achieve this feat, since Para swimmers from Africa are a rarity to begin with.”
The website recognizes that only four female swimmers went to the Rio 2016 edition and that out of 593 swimmers who competed then, just 10 hailed from Africa.
Kukundakwe,12, is now aiming at following in the shoes of Sydney 2000 participant Prossy Tusabe – the only Ugandan to swim at the Games (competed in the women’s 100m freestyle S10 category with a time of 2:12.45) – by representing the country at the next Paralympics in Tokyo 2020.
This year, she went from crying at the pool deck because her former coach would not let her swim for the school team at the Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) Primary Schools Gala in March to representing Uganda at the world stage.
Three personal bests
She went to the World Series in Singapore in May, where she recorded three personal bests in the 100m breaststroke (1:57.8), 100m freestyle (1:30.43) and 50m freestyle (40.24.
It is from there that she qualified for London as the youngest swimmer but the weight of the competition and seniority of her colleagues did not stop her from bettering times in the 50m (38.14) and 100m (1:24.85) freestyle events.
The Dolphins Swim Club athlete’s feat was recognized alongside Hungary’s Peter Pal Kiss, 16, who backed up his European Championship gold medal by winning the men’s KL1 200m at the Szeged 2019 Para Canoe World Championships.
The two were level with Ecuador’s Kiara Rodriguez, 16, who won the women’s 100m, 200m and long jump T46 at the Nottwil 2019 World Para Athletics Junior Championships.
Rodriguez followed that up with gold in the long jump at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru and World Championships in Dubai.
And were joined by China’s 15-year-old WH2 class badminton star Liu Yutong, who retained her women’s singles title in the World Championships in August.