Many still harbour Olympic dream

Rugby Cranes 7s player Pius Ogena is among many hoping to make the Games. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE

What you need to know:

It will be a heartbreak if none of Husina Kobugabe, Gladys Mbabazi, or Fadillah Shamika make it to the Paris 2024 Olympics. The trio gave Uganda an early smile after winning four medals at the recent African Games in Accra, Ghana.  

With about 100 days to the Paris 2024 Olympics, most countries have booked their places in different sports. But except rowing and athletics, Uganda’s participants in other disciplines are still trying in hope. Few are on the brink of qualification, many on the cusp of heartbreak.


It was only at London 2012 when Uganda failed to field boxers at the Olympics. By then Uganda was at the peak of administrative wrangles, which triggered a ban by the International Boxing Association (IBA).  

Since then, Uganda have competed at both Olympic editions. But currently, the Bombers are likely to miss Paris 2024 after two qualifying campaigns.

At the continental qualifier in Dakar, Senegal in September 2023, all of the five Ugandans failed the test. The four men needed to win gold to qualify but only captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa reached the semifinals. |Grace Nankinga, the only woman on the team, needed to reach the finals but she lost her first bout. At the 1st World Olympic Qualifier in Busto Arsizio, Italy, Tukamuhebwa won two fights but lost quarterfinals to Jordan's Obada Alkasbeh.

Emily Nakalema, Yusuf Nkobeza and Shafick Mawanda all dropped out at the first hurdle.

Now Uganda's very slim hopes remain in the last qualifying event in Bangkok, Thailand in May and the unlikely event of winning one of the universality slots, reserved for only those national federations that have not yet qualified a boxer.

It is a big concern that in Italy even the Refugee Team qualified a boxer. And Uganda has not. Interestingly, Tukamuhebwa and Nkobeza are no longer in the picture because they are foraging Europe for a better life.

Jesse Ssengonzi wants to make Paris. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 


Kirabo Namutebi was Uganda’s flagbearer alongside boxer Musa Shadir Bwogi at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.  But the swimmer who competed in the Women's 50m Freestyle Heat is yet to qualify for Paris.

At Tokyo, Kirabo stopped in the heats, and her pursuit to improve her Olympic record faces a qualifying hurdle. She must hit the qualifying mark at the USA Olympic Qualifiers in Indianapolis in early June.

Meanwhile, Jesse Ssengonzi, and Gloria Muzito, who won bronze at the African Games in Accra, are waiting for wild cards.

Rugby Sevens

Tolbert Onyango’s Rugby Sevens team will have to try their luck at the 2024 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, in Monaco starting June 21–23, exactly a month before the Paris 2024 Olympics kick off.

Uganda will wait for its opponents among Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Great Britain, Hong Kong China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Spain and Tonga, with one Olympic slot at stake.

Meanwhile, The Lady Cranes will also contend for one Olympic slot against Argentina, China, Czechia, Hong Kong China, Kenya, Jamaica, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, and Samoa.

Both of Uganda’s teams have to be lucky to make it but it won’t stop them from trying.


Davis Niyoyita won two silver medals and a bronze in the Men’s 55kg category at the African Games. Unfortunately, that was not a qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Alice Nakidde is one of the Olympic hopefuls. PHOTO/PROMISE TWINAMUKYE 

Now, the only Sub-Saharan athlete to win gold at the 2023 African Senior Championship, who then declined in subsequent qualifying events, had to be at his very best at the ongoing IWF World Cup, in Phuket, Thailand.  He improved his total to 221kg but it is unclear whether he's got the ticket to Paris.

Meanwhile, his colleague Lydia Nakidde, who missed out on a medal in Accra, was hoping for better fortunes in Phuket. Before Accra, she had been on a progressing trend. She was due to hit the stage by press time yesterday.


It will be a heartbreak if none of Husina Kobugabe, Gladys Mbabazi, or Fadillah Shamika make it to the Paris 2024 Olympics. The trio gave Uganda an early smile after winning four medals at the recent African Games in Accra, Ghana.  

Shamika settled for bronze in the Women’s Singles before Kobugabe partnered with Gladys Mbabazi to strike gold against Algerian opposition in the Women’s Doubles. Kobugabe was unlucky to throw away a healthy lead against South African star Johanita Scholtz in the Women’s Singles final, albeit adding silver to her gold, Uganda’s first in racket games.

But a day later the trio, alongside Tracy Naluwooza were in France at the Orleans Masters, one of the several tournaments they must play to accumulate points to qualify for Paris 2024.  

All lost in the early stages and hoped for a better show at the Swiss Open and the Spanish Open.  They flopped again. They must make it at the Slovakia Open due April 17. The qualifying deadline is April 28.

Uganda is still struggling to find another Olympian since Edwin Ekiring at the London 2012 Olympics. This was his second appearance after becoming the first Ugandan badminton player at the Olympics at Beijing 2008.

Uganda Badminton Federation CEO Simon Mugabi bemoans Brian Kasirye's decision to abandon the sport for jobs in the USA as “very untimely.” He said by now he would have been Number One in Africa, and heading for Paris. The burden now is on the ladies.