Talking about ladies of Valor, today we bring you Kyambogo university’s Meya Avice Kakayi a 22-year-old pool dweller. A 14 time gold medalist from the recently concluded East African University games 2016 at Kenyatta university and the captain Uganda National Swim Team (UNST).
Kakayi is also attached to Silverfin academy, a multicultural swim club based in Bukoto.
Who is Meya Avice Kakayi?
Ans: I’m a 3rd year student at Kyambogo university offering a bachelor’s degree in development studies. I’m a hardworking lady ,optimistic, down to earth and a christian.
How and when did you start swimming?
I actually started swimming at a tender age of 6. I was taught by my coach at the time Mr. Abdul Muhammed of green hill academy.
Where do you draw this swimming inspiration from?
As a matter of fact, I come from a family with a sporting background and my parents have been my top source of inspiration. My father Andrew Meya plays cricket and happens to manage the Uganda National Cricket Team and my mother Sayson Meya is a high jumper, basketballer and was once an Olympic athlete, with such parents I haven’t looked any further for a source of inspiration.
However, I still look up to Aaliyah Atkinson a Jamaican swimmer and Olympian as my role model.
So far in your career, what achievements have you registered in this swimming career?
(Laughs) Achievements have been quite many and they root from way back in primary when I won my first medal and prize in the 25m freestyle swimming competition, but I will take you through a few of them!
- I was Uganda’s National Swim Team Captain 2015 and 2016.
- I Represented Uganda in the CANA ZONE 3 championships in Mauritius 2016 and made personal best times in 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle.
- I won 14 gold medals in Kenya when I Represented KYU in the 10th East African University Games 2016.
- I won 8 gold and 5 silver medals when I became Best female swimmer in 15 and above category in the 2nd annual club gala 2016.
- I emerged as the Best female swimmer in 17 and above category 1st CANA ZONE III Championships held in December 2015.
- I was the Best female swimmer in 17 and above category at the seals International Club Gala (East Africa) in July 2015.
- I was the Best female swimmer in 17 and above category during Uganda National Excel Championship 2014.
- I made personal best times in her major’s 50 meters butterfly and 50 meters front crawl CANA Zone IV Swimming Championships in Luanda, Angola in 2015 and also made personal best times in her majors 50 meters butterfly and 50 meters front crawl in the 12th all Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville 2015.
- I scooped 8 Silver Medals during East African University Games Dec 2014.
- I have been the Captain of the swimming team in both my secondary schools in Greenhill Academy and Taibah International.
- In 2012, I advocated for the construction of a swimming pool in Taibah international that was later constructed in 2015 and also boosted swimming in the school that very year.
- Lastly, but not least I have been the Sports woman of the year 3 times in a row since 2008 till 2011 in Greenhill Academy.
Great achievements right there however, What are those challenges that are still probably holding you back?
Usually they are similar challenges any sports person in a country like Uganda faces. Talk of inadequacy of swimming equipment especially the 50 meter pools that are few.
How do you strike a balance between Education and your swimming career?
I remember having to give swimming a break for 2 years to focus on my books, But since I got back to swimming, coordinating swimming practice and books is hard yet they are both demanding equal time which I must do or else I lose out on one. I attend to my studies during day while others practice and I practice in the evening till late.
Sports is an expensive venture, where do you get funds to facilitate your career?
Financial support is another challenge usually, I face financial hardships to do and support my swimming activities but still with all these challenges I still hustle out to be the best.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Honestly speaking in 5 years from now I need to qualify for the Olympics by God’s grace and I know I’ll make it.
Any words of encouragement to your fellow youths?
Stick to God and never give up on your dreams, who knows what your destined to be!