End of 2013 Rowing Review

A quick flash back at the rowing activity in Uganda reflects a whole lot of a gradual transition of the sport that was on its death bed for a long spell due to the various administrative wrangles. Kawowo Sports’ David Isabirye reflects on the year past by, highlighting the achievements, the pitfalls and the projection for the future ahead.

After a successful national regatta held at Miami beach along Lake Victoria shores (Luzira) in March, great improvement from many rowers was recorded. For Starters, Gerald Ssemambo recorded the best single sculling time of 9:16: 05 to beat William Mwanga who returned 10:46:02.

The day long event however belonged to Mambu Constance who scooped the single and double scull events with the ease of sailor executing his duties on a calm water body.

May Elections:

One of the major landmark feat for rowing in 2013 was the ability to hold peaceful elections that brought on board, a new executive headed by Hamza Kahwa along other able executive members. The elections marked a new transition of administration from the hands of the care taker regime of the national council of sports.

Kahwa, a member of Friends Rowing club was voted unopposed following the unexpected withdrawal of Charles Batambuze. The latter withdrew from the race with just minutes to casting the ballots to the surprise of the entire assembly. 

Express Rowing club’s Rachael Kobusingye beat UPDF’s Dickson Katende to the position of Vice President in charge of technical affairs with a 5-3 vote triumph while Faruku Baruku of Wellness Rowing Club beat Ntozi Arthur 5-3 to the post of Vice President Administration. 

Solomon Muwonge (Nalubaale Rowing Club) was voted the new secretary general of the association having beaten Abubaker Mayanja with a 5-2 margin in a race where one vote was declared invalid. 

Winston Nnusu was voted unopposed as the new treasurer, while Rodrick Muhumuza resumed the publicity secretary role after defeating Irene Kisuule 6-2 in the polls.

World Junior Championships in Trakai, Luthuiania:

Constance Mbambu qualified for the world youth Olympics that are slated for next year in China. Mambu, who finished 26th out of 59 nations at the Trakai event, also participated in several races like the European Army Regatta where she finished 5th and the 2 km Okeanos Race where she set The Okeanos Race Track record for foreign athletes with a sensational time of 9:16.s

African Rowing Championships:

Uganda was represented by two rowers at the Tunisia event. Alfred Okello, a junior rower scooped bronze while the highly competitive senior’s single scull boat competition only left Gerald Ssemambo in the 5th though with an improved timing.

Training Opportunities for players and Coaches:

The year 2013 also marked another landmark feat where an increased number of locally based rowers and administrators landed several link´ups with diaspora friends for more intensive training opportunities with vastly experienced rowers, under ultra modern facilities and more net working opportunities.

Top male rower rower enjoyed state of the art facilities in Holland where he also participated in several regattas including the Holland Rowing meet (2013 Hollande Bekker). Female rower, Constance Mbambu also got a training opportunity in Europe prior the Trakai junior event.

Coach Rodrick Muhumuza got 2 training and refresher opportunities in Nairobi and South Africa.

Rowing Center at Garuga:

In a bid to move the game across several places in the country, a new rowing center at Garuga country resort was launched on May 18th 2013.

The Garuga colorful function was witnessed by the Uganda Olympic Committee President, William Blick who challenged the Kahwa led federation to work and think beyond the box.

“It is a great privilege and honor to have a home for the federation. You now longer are a brief case association,” Blick, who was flanked by the Rowing President, Hamuza Kahwa and the Garuga Resort manager, Solomon Muwonge said. Blick also urged the executive to spread the game to other parts of the country.


The issue of finances still remains a major problem that cuts across many sports federations in the country. Rowing too was not spared. The Federation held only one national regatta (the major competition locally in May) with a few trips outside the country.

Rowers who represented the nation at the African Rowing Championships trained under lots of difficulties including struggles to attain great food, supplements and other necessary nutrients that would enhance the rowers for better performances.

Infact, the team was trimmed to 2 rowers and a coach because of the problems to secure the much desired air tickets and allowances.

News filtered in about the prolonged fault of the power enhancing concept machine which took ages to be repaired still because the finances were not readily available.

Sad News:

On Sad note, the world rowing fraternity was hit by the sad untimely news about the death of a former Indian rower, Dharmesh Sangwan. The deceased was among the hundreds that have lost their lives in a space of 10 days after clashes in South Sudan in early December .

Dharmesh is an Asian Games silver medalist and Asian Championship gold medal winner, and was among the two Indian soldiers killed in an attack on a United Nations compound in South Sudan

Failed Bukenya Sponsorship:

At the launch of the Garuga rowing center, it was announced, rowing sensational, Suzan Nabukenya, who had participated in the 2013 junior rowing championships in Egypt had won herself a scholarship courtesy of the International Olympic Committee. However, the developments that followed after  about that scholarship will definitely call for another well documented script for another day.

Friends of Rowing in Uganda and beyond:

The sport has no doubt attracted its very own brand of diehards who breathe, eat, sleep, think and drink rowing. From Europe, the United States, Africa to back home, the sport is loved and adored. Thank you all those special friends and rowing clubs. Special credit to Thomas Friedhoff, Sampson, Gianna Gaurino, President Kahwa and your entire executive, Charles Batambuze, Uganda Olympic Committee, National Council of Sports, the players, media and all concerned partners (sponsors).

Bright Future:

Like that Biblical Verse where the prophet Jeremiah delivered God’s good news of the future he had for his people in Jeremiah 29:11, the future of rowing in Uganda is surely bright with various stake holders starting to pick interest.

The corporate companies and media will come and support organized federations. Rowers will be the biggest beneficiaries. Uganda is set to host the East and Central Africa rowing championships in March and surely the global limelight will once again flourish on Uganda.

The Uganda Rowing Federation now looks set for the 2014 Junior Olympics and the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympic games.


David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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