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Ever-smiling Ugandans determined to make it back to Horse Guard's Parade for London 2012
After three days of competition at the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International there is little doubt who is the most popular team so far – Uganda’s Josephine Nammanda and Alice Gitta Okecho.
The 23rd seeded pair won over the crowds at Horse Guard’s Parade with their whole hearted displays, never say die spirit and beaming smiles. Such support has now made them more determined than ever to return for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Now that we know the whole of England is here to watch us, that they are here supporting us,” Nammanda said. “The whole world is surprised by these two Ugandan girls who are getting a crowd as big as this.
“By the time we get back here, they will have told everyone else to come here and cheer for us and when we go back home we will bear in mind that we have fans here that we must impress.”
Nammanda and Gitta Okecho were thrown in the deep end against 2009 World Champions Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, who won 21-6, 21-8. Next up was a 21-15, 21-5 defeat to Canada’s Kacie MacTavish and Julie Rodrigue, before Estonia’s Mari-Liis Graumann and Anu Ennok ended their involvement at London with a 21-11, 21-6 victory.
Despite the three losses the Ugandan pair are confident that the lessons they learned in London will stand them in good stead as they attempt to make it back for the London 2012 Olympic Games despite the difficulty in juggling training with full time jobs.
“We can write a very big book about our lessons from this tournament,” Nammanda said. “We have made our small notes and we are going to use them to build a better Ugandan team, a better team for Africa because we have learned so much.
“In most African countries, you can’t be a professional athlete. You have to have another job to survive. So we will keep our jobs, but we will use even the smallest time available and maximise it to better our game and improve our skills.”