The disappearnce of weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko at from Team Uganda Camp in Tokyo was a headline grabbing moment at the coveted games.
The developments came through after Ssekitoleko was deemed ineligible to participate in the games and was expected to return back to the country the following week.
However after understanding his fate, the weight lifter decided to abscond from camp, leaving behind his luggage and a note saying he wanted to stay in Japan and work.
Days after his disappearance, the weightlifter re-surfaced and handed himself to authorities in Japan. He was deported back to Uganda.
Since his return, he has spent close to five days in Custody until Security operatives released him mid-week.
On Friday July 30th, Ssekitoleko was hosted on the Mwasuze Mutya morning show at NTV. He narrated his sporting life that has come from leaps and bounds.
“I started playing rugby in my early days but later changed to another sport (weight lifting). What inspired me is that I used to pass by some gym in our neighborhood during my school days, so I got attracted and I started doing gym (weight lifting).
” In 2011, I left for England to play rugby in an international tournament. That is where I got my 1st Silver medal and i signed for shs 800,000/- But when he returned to Uganda, he only received 35,000/- which I gave to my mother. At this point, I decided to quit rugby because he was not benefitting and started training for weight lifting.
To many Ugandans, the name Ssekitoleko sounded new to their ears participating in any major competition for the country. However, the weightlifter says it was not his first time.
“It wasn’t my first time, when we had come back from Commonwealth Games in Australia, we came back to prepare for All African games in Morocco, we went for the competition. It all didn’t go well due to the diet that side, we used to eat bread which I wasn’t used to hence causing hunger but we got points for the Olympics.”
Ahead of the Olympics games currently ongoing in Tokyo Japan, Ssekitoleko was among the first batch for members Uganda sent for the Games.
“We set off here after preparing, we knew we had Qualified together my colleagues like Hakim Musoke and they called us to take our passports to the Japan Embassy so as to get Visas.
“We arrived well and we’re welcomed. They took us for Covid testing but we took a lot of time there. After we went to the training camp but they didn’t have gyms for weight lifting. So they took us at one of the tallest buildings in Japan, got for us a training facility on the ground floor.”
After making it on the team, Ssekitoleko had a chance of qualifying to the Olympics and was part of Team Uganda’s first batch in Japan. He however did not make the quota as informed by the International weightlifting Federation on July 5 and was expected to return to Uganda on July 20, UOC confirmed on Thursday.
“After some days training, our official called Mr.Katende came and told me plus my coach that I had to return to Uganda. I was told that I was not going to participate in the Olympics 2021, I was devastated.
“They gave me a ticket and told me I was leaving on the 20th. I didn’t even take breakfast and went straight to my room. My mind was distracted because my dream had been shuttered. I prayed to God that I don’t go back to Uganda because I had sold all I had.”
After understanding about his fate at the competition, the weight lifter went missing in Japan. He left behind his luggage and a note saying he wanted to stay in Japan and work.
“I just left, I woke up early morning, didn’t tell anyone, packed my things and went out. I used a train I and went up to Nagoya and moved around throughout those days. I used to sleep outside and prayed to God I could get anyone to help me out.”
However, four days after his disappearnce, the Ugandan weightlifter was found and taken to a near by police station. He says he was rescued by a Pakistan man who gave him comfort and felt home again.
“I got a Pakistan man. He told they are looking for me. I told him to help me and give me something to eat. He gave me something to eat. I then told him to take me to any nearby police station so that I can return back home. He drove me and took me to a police station, they treated me well and told me to feel at home, the even gave me food because my body wasn’t in a normal state since I used to sleep outside.”
On his arrival at Entebbe many Ugandans, including his family members were waiting to receive him at the airport. However that didn’t happen as he was arrested upon arrival. He was whisked away by Police and taken to Kibuli CID offices.
“On arrival, a lady came to me asked me if I was Julius. They took my passport, took me to custody and then called police, I didn’t know why. They diverted Journalists and told them to slope down. After they took me to Kibuli, they told me we need you, asked me a few questions. They couldn’t allow my family to see me as they put up tight security. They took my phone and told me that I was under their hands”,
After, they took me to Jinja road police station. They told me that I had stolen government money. After some time, they took me to the cells, inmates there took everything of mine, I told them I had nothing but all in vain.”
Following sound bytes of discontent from many sportsmen and the help of his lawyers, Ssekitoleko was released on bond. However, he will be expected to continue reporting himself to Police everytime he’s summomed.
He thanked Ugandans for their support to see him get out of jail.
“I thank my Lawyers, mama Fiona, all Ugandans for their cry and helping me in the trying times to see me get out of jail. May God bless you. I will remain in this game.”
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