Ugandan Hasna Kukondakwe hopes her Paralympic campaign will change perceptions

Ugandan Hasna Kukondakwe, the youngest athlete at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, may have ended her Paralympic campaign, but she believes the legacy of her participation will continue to affect Uganda, and even across Africa.

After the heat of the SB8 100m swim at the Tokyo Aquatics Center on Thursday, August 26, Kokondakwe spoke of her hope that people from all over Africa will see her and that watching her swim changes perceptions.

Uganda has access to watching the Paralympics on TV and Africa in general is a land where people with disabilities are marginalized by society. Most parents (in Uganda) who give birth to disabled children abandon them, sometimes ending up in the streets, becoming beggars.

“Maybe if they (parents) watch the Paralympic Games, when they see them they will realize that the choice they made was really bad and they had to support their children to achieve their dreams,” said Kokondakwe, who was born in Kampala in one of the limbs. inability.

For the Tokyo 2020 Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has offered free coverage of the Games across sub-Saharan Africa as part of its efforts to raise awareness of disabled sport in the region. This way, more people in Uganda will see the games and the inspiring stories of its athletes, including Kukundakwe.

^ James Varghese for IPC

With his ending in Tokyo nearing, Kukondakui finished on a positive note and looked to the future. You’ve talked before about the confidence swimming gave you, but competing in the Paralympics took your confidence to new heights.

“I feel like I’m on top (she raises her head to focus), I feel like I can touch the clouds. I’m the youngest here and just watching other people do it and swimming with them is an amazing experience.”

“I am so happy and so excited to officially get the title of Paralympic athlete. People used to call me a Paralympic athlete, but I won’t feel as good as I am now because I am already a Paralympic athlete. I feel more real. This moment is real.”

But at just 14 years old, his career could advance much more.

“This is the beginning of my journey and I am so excited to see how far I will go. I will probably go back to watch the finals and see how these guys (other swimmers) get medals. Just seeing these guys who have more experience than me will give me a vision of what I want to be when I grow up.”

When asked if we’d see her in Paris, she was a resounding “yes.” “I am looking forward to being in Paris. Paris is like a huge city. I love French as a subject and maybe by then I can speak it fluently.”

But for now, Kukundakoy has more pressing priorities. “I want a Coke, because I haven’t had a soft drink in about a year. So does bread.”

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