Umar Bakashaba: One-armed Cyclist Eyeing Paris 2024

Disability is not ability, goes the old adage, and Umar Bakashaba rightly fits into that bracket.

Bakashaba is a one-armed courageous 26-year old who recently successfully competed and finished the Cycling race organised by Cycling Academy Uganda.

He has been taking part in a couple of Cycling activities under Uganda Cycling Association, competing with able-bodied cyclists.

Born in Isingiro district, Bakashaba was involved in terrible accident while he was still nine years, and his arm had to be chopped off.

Umar Bakashaba

He stays in Nansana and that’s where he learnt Cycling as a means of transport to work since most times he had to foot from his home to work in Makerere Kikoni.

“I failed to get transport to work and when I talked to my brother, he gave me his bike that I had to pay Sh300,000 in installments,” Bakashaba opens up.

That necessitated Bakashaba to go to a nearby football pitch in Nansana to start cycling lessons.

It was a difficult hustle as expected, especially when it came to applying brakes but his determination and courage kept him focussed.

He briefly adds: “The main thing is balancing the bike.”

Abbey Kitaka interviewing Umar Bakashaba

He has since mastered his trade through negotiating his way past motorcycles and Cars in the City.

“And if you miscalculate your path or any coming vehicle, then your are gone.”

“I needed Sh4000 to transport me by taxi to and from work which I did not have on a daily basis so I had to take this step of learning riding a bike.”

He confesses that his parents are always worried every time he leaves home and have “warned me to be careful.”

“One day I was riding at night and got knocked by a taxi that’s why i have these scars but God was by my side,” he narrates his story as he shows me his scars.

And Bakashaba believes he is the best in the country when it comes to Cycling. “I know I am the best when it comes to this Sport, I have two feet with enough energy and I am doing this sport with a lot of passion.”

But it takes more than energy and passion to be up there, and Bakashaba is aware of other challenges.

He rides a 250k Mountain bike, not a road bike or those for para athletes which have proved to be expensive.

“Here in Uganda, I compete with able-bodied cyclists with bikes worth more than Sh5m but mine is too old and cheap because it’s the one I use everyday to work and even in the competition.

“But if I can get someone to rescue me with a road bike, I know I can out-compete the rest. And my target is to represent my country at the Paralympics in 2024.

According Augustine Nionzima, the CEO Cycling Academy Uganda says they are planning to give him international exposure.

“Apparently we are only having him as the only one with disability, we are planning to take him to Rwanda, Egypt and South Africa resources permitting for qualifiers and our wish is to see him in Paris France come 2024.”

The next Paralympics will be held in Paris in 2024 (28 August – 8 September).

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