Uganda is one of the countries that concluded the 18th Fina World Championships in Gwangju – South Korea, with an enhanced reputation.
It was the kind of gala that served many mixed emotions both within and without the pool; from Rwanda being promised a pool (Uganda continues to lobby for one) to Michael Phelps’ 10 year old 200m (1:51.51) and 100m (49.82) butterfly records being broken by Hungary’s Kristof Milak (1:50.73) and American Caeleb Dressel (49.50) respectively.
These were tough championships for some seasoned names like Kate Ledecky, Katinka Hoszzu and Uganda’s Avice Meya.
Unfortunately, they will be mostly remembered as the championship where Australia’s Mack Horton, Britain’s Duncan Scott and Brazil’s Joao de Luca refused on different occasions to share the podium with China’s Sun Yang.
All three insist the Chinese swimmer was guilty of violating rules during a controversial doping test last year.
In many ways it is refreshing that Ugandan swimmers continue to steer clear of such drama as they re-write their country’s own swimming profile.
Meya, Selina Katumba, Tendo Mukalazi and Ambala Atuhaire concluded their participation on Saturday with a new record (4:00.09) in the 4*100m mixed freestyle relay.
This was the first time Uganda was involved in a relay at the Worlds and they placed sixth out of eight African teams behind South Africa, Senegal, Kenya, Seychelles and Angola.
They could have done one earlier – the 4*100m mixed medley relay on Wednesday morning – but they could not confirm their participation in time.
Perhaps that and Meya’s failure to lower her times in the 100m fly (1:19.69) and 50m freestyle (29.49) – events she will likely do if she makes the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – are the only things Uganda would like to forget about Gwangju.
Fortunately for Meya, there is the All Africa Games in Morocco due August 21-28 to fashion a comeback.
More positively, Mukalazi also posted 29.70 in the 50m backstroke to mark a new personal best and national record (NR) on Saturday morning. That’s on top of the 32.64 NR he set in 50m breaststroke last Tuesday.
Atuhaire also set a new NR in the 100m freestyle (53.89) on Wednesday while Katumba lowered her times in the women’s event (1:03.88). She also managed another PB in the 50m butterfly (32.77).