Uganda: Paralympics Hero Lives On Handouts


Photo: The Observer

Paralympic silver medallist David Emong after competing in the NSSF-organised marathon.

Uganda’s 2016 Paralympics hero David Emong, who made the country proud by winning a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Brazil last August, is surviving on handouts from relatives and well-wishers. His prevailing situation is not what he expected after winning the only medal for the country in this category of special Olympics, reports ABUBAKER MAYEMBA.

The 2016 Paralympics silver medalist David Emong is living on handouts and the kindness of well-wishers to survive. This is at a time, when he is preparing for the World Athletics Championships due in London later this year.

Emong, who looks desperate feels, he has not been accorded the same support as other athletes that have won medals for Uganda in the recent past. The 27-year-old athlete from Amolatar district was the only medalist from Uganda during the 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro last year, albeit being in the Paralympics.

Of the 22-athlete contingent to Brazil, Emong was the only Paralympian from Uganda, finishing behind Algeria’s Nouioua Sami in his T45-46 1500 metres race.

NO HANDSHAKE

Emong expected not only a dramatic welcome upon his return, but also a state dinner at least; with a presidential handshake to follow for his feat. However, six months down the road, he is grassing.

He said: “I wonder why all previous medalists have dined with the president, yet I have not. Is it that I was not a worthy winner?”

The likes of Stephen Kiprotich, a gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics in London, Dorcus Inzikuru, a gold medalist at the World Championships in 2005, Helsinki, among others, have received a presidential handshake, that has come with a bounty.

But not Emong. He remains unemployed and has to beg to survive and even keep his athletics career going.

“I have to train to keep in shape, yet I have to depend on a few handouts.”

Emong disclosed that prominent sportsmen like Kiprotich are the people that have kept him going. But these are fellow athletes, who just have enough to live. However, Emong, who after his bronze medal win at the 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique, was put on the National Council of Sports (NCS) fund for successful national athletes, said money from there has also been irregular.

“The whole of last year, I received only Shs 2 million for two months,” Emong said.

MINISTRY RESPONDS

This has left him wondering why that money has also not been coming in as promised, with all the responsibilities he has beyond representing the country. Although he is not yet married, he has his old parents to look after, yet without any income, that is hard.

When the state minister for sports Charles Bakkabulindi was contacted about Emong’s outcry, he was upset that the responsibility of lobbying for Emong was being put on him. Bakkabulindi said he was too busy handling much bigger issues. He felt that Emong’s matter could be handled by the departments in the ministry. That will not be encouraging for Emong, who is downcast.

The effort he put into ensuring that he won silver in Brazil was hinged on the hope that he would experience a life turnaround. Emong cautioned government that most people with disabilities (PWDs) see him as a role model. But since he has not been rewarded as able-bodied people before him have, then there will be no inspiration for more PWDs to aspire, to represent the country.”



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