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Against All Odds: A Tale of Tumusiime's Quest for 2024 Paralympic Dream :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Against All Odds: A Tale of Tumusiime's Quest for 2024 Paralympic Dream

At 23 years, he has participated in just one international Paralympic event- Marrakech 2023 WPA Grand Prix - 7th International Para Athletics Meeting where he emerged 4th on the continent in which he hit 4 minutes and 52 seconds over the 1500-race.
Tumusiime Gad on right with his Guide Abdu Karim

Audio 2

Gad Reuben Tumusiime is eagerly pursuing qualification for the 2024 Paralympic Games set to take place in Paris, France. He will be hoping to improve Uganda's representation after a modest Tokyo 2021 event, where only four athletes participated, securing a noteworthy bronze, thanks to the standout performance of veteran David Emong.  

But, at 23 years, Tumusiime has participated in just one international Paralympic event- Marrakech 2023 WPA Grand Prix - 7th International Para Athletics Meeting where he emerged 4th on the continent in which, he hit 4 minutes and 52 seconds over the 1500-race.

Tumusiime is classified under the T-11 category, designed for athletes with visual impairments. This category includes those without sight or those able to perceive light but lacking the ability to discern the shape of a hand at any distance. T-11 athletes often rely on guides during their runs.  Just like many para-athletes URN has interviewed, Tumusiime hasn't been a lifelong runner.

He began this journey just last year in 2022, inspired by his friend Geoffrey Masisa.  In an interaction with URN, Tumusiime, awaiting graduation from Makerere University with a Bachelor's in Education said that after seeing Masisa who equally belongs to the T/F 11 categorization of athletics events participating in several Paralympic events, he also picked interest.   

His long-term friend, Masisa casually runs at Makerere University's main football ground together with normal athletes who storm the pitch on a daily basis to train for National field and track trials. Just like Masisa, who uses a grip that he ties to his guide Joshua Jagalo who is able to see, Tumusiime too cannot run by himself because he needs a guide to run with him.  

It is at this point that Tumusiime linked up with Abdu Karim Lubega, another para-athlete who belongs to the T/F category, which includes people with impairments in their arms to act as his guide.    

The making of Karim-Tumusiime Duo    

In 2021, Uganda Radio Network reported that Abdu Karim Lubega was contemplating undergoing surgery to qualify for the Paralympic Games after he was disqualified from All Africa Paralympic Games claiming that he didn’t have a class he belonged to qualify for the Paralympic Games.  

The athlete has an improperly developed right without fingers, which affects the movement of the elbow while running previously believed that he belonged to the disabled but was shocked when he was told that he was ineligible to compete among the disabled, neither could he compete with normal athletes.

Medics told him that his elbow was performing well compared to other athletes in his category and advised him to undergo surgery to cut off the upper part of his hand so as to qualify.  Although he had earlier chosen to undergo surgery, he reconsidered due to the high costs and the uncertain outcome, realizing that it did not guarantee automatic success. But as he was there contemplating on what could be his next move, he joined links with Tumusiime whom he says all his hopes are in.

 

“I have already taken him to people who used to support me, I want them to start supporting him as well, that is where my hope lies.” Lubega briefly said. Lubega says that since they linked up, Tumusiime’s time has been improving because he running under 5 minutes, something that keeps his head up.  He now believes that all the support that was given to him should be diverted to Tumusiime. Lubega’s primary role will be pushing Tumusiime time to the qualifying time.      

 

Luganda audio 

//Cue in: tuvude magujja …

Cue out:… nti twekiririzamu,”//

Paralympic Qualification hurdle  

Gad Reuben Tumusiime is in the midst of the Paralympic qualification hurdle, standing among the 11 or 13 para-athletes under consideration for the upcoming Dubai Championship in February—a pivotal event serving as a qualifier for the much-anticipated Paris 2024 Paralympics.  

Paralympic Coach James Senkungu who has for long been overseeing several Para athletes says that he is mentioned but he still has to improve his time. But Senkungu is positive that Tumusiime’s time he is posting is promising considering the fact that he is a new runner on the block.  

During the recently concluded Paralympic National trials, Tumusiime clocked in at 4 minutes and 58 seconds, a mere 6 microseconds shy of his earlier attempt at the Marrakech 2023 WPA Grand Prix in March. Senkungu attributes this discrepancy to the challenging surfaces at Makerere University's main grounds, where the trials took place. He asserts that the wet conditions impacted Tumusiime's performance, urging observers to withhold judgment until he runs on more suitable ground.

“Because of the wet surface in Makerere, he ran below the time he made in Marrakech, but you can leave that wait when he runs on proper ground," he said. With less than two months remaining, Tumusiime faces the daunting task of shaving over 30 seconds from his personal best time of 4 minutes and 52 seconds to meet the stringent 4:20.00-minute qualification mark. Speaking to Uganda Radio Network- URN, Tumusiime said that he practices morning and evening to improve the time.  

Luganda 

//Cue in: "Nakaduka national

Cue out: … and evening training,”//

Lacking facilitation

Since he dedicated the rest of the year and the beginning of the month, Tumusiime decided not to go back to his village, Rubanda in Greater Kabale, and rather decided to rent a modest room in Kikoni, to get closer to the Makerere main ground where his training routinely takes place. 

  

He however says that while the training requires him to have proper meals, he most of the time struggles to secure food and other requirements like athlete boots which he says threatens his performance.

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