Uganda selects team for Special Olympic Games

Made it. Feni will lead the team of swimmers at the World Games in Berlin. PHOTO/George Katongole

There were thrills, jitters, tears and joy! Two days of the Special Olympics national games at St Joseph’s College Layibi concluded Saturday with the selection of the final team to Berlin.
Germany will host the Games for the first time from 17 to 25 June 2023.

With more than 200 athletes with learning disabilities attending the national games, courage was all over as athletes competed in track events, swimming, volleyball, football (both traditional and unified) as well as basketball – held for demonstration purposes.

But when the moment to select the national team came, the nerves were sky high. Only the top four swimmers were sure of their Berlin tickets. 
SilverFin swimmer and double medallist from the Abu Dhabi 2019 Games Larry Feni, Rowland Lagum, Bint Cleopatra and Praise Odoi were the chosen ones.
At least 12 athletes in field events were eligible but to fill the required quota of three athletes, with two of the slots reserved for the females, it took luck.
The national director, Genevieve Bamwidhukire, and Clare Wavamunno, a board member representing families, drew lots. The angels smiled on Daisy Aber, an athlete in Division Five who managed 16:72 seconds in 100m dash. 

The other was Hellen Akello, who came top in Division III with a time of 15:54. 
Michael Byansi took the men’s slot.
Kumi Volleyball Club, who defeated Kampala 2-0 in the unified category, will for the second consecutive time represent, while Wakiso will field the traditional football team after defeating Masaka. 
Each team will field 12 players.
Sam Kiggundu, the national sports director, expressed confidence in the team.

Uganda will field only 32 athletes.
Bamwidhukire said focus now is to look for funds to help the team assemble in time ahead of the Games. The team will hold three training camps starting in September.
“The level of competition was low maybe because of the coronavirus pandemic. We need to do a lot of work, especially on the athletics team because many athletes were disqualified,” she said.

Special Olympics
Selected team

Swimming:     Larry Feni, Rowland 
        Lagum, Cleopatra Bint, 
        Praise Odoi
Athletics:     Daisy Aber, Hellen Akello,
        Michael Byansi
Football:     Wakiso*
Volleyball:     Kumi*
Table tennis: TBD
*Players subject to medical screening


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