“It was the best and most marvelous moment I have ever experienced in my life, seeingmy country’s flag being raised up.”
Reminiscing about that special moment from the summer still brings goosebumps to Ugandan athlete Knight Aciru. At this year’s Chengdu FISU World University Games, the 25-year-old became just the third female Ugandan student-athlete to win a medal in World University Games history, clocking a time of 2:04.34 to win silver in the 800m women’s final.
Knight, a third-year accounting student at the Ndejje University in Uganda, was confident heading into the two-lap final having won her semi-final against a tough field.
“I was confident about my race, knowing that I could fight for a medal because and I was not afraid of my competitors, even though some of them had posted better times than me,” she tells FISU.net.
In a tightly contested final, Knight was pipped to the post by Italy’s Laura Pellicono by just 14 split seconds, yet being the winner of one of just two medals her country earned in the competition made her immensely proud.
“Achieving this silver medal at the FISU games in Chengdu is my greatest achievement,” she says. “This will now serve as a stepping stone for me in the future.”
Knight feels the level of competition at the FISU Games was incredibly high, and that an unknowing audience should not be misguided by the word “student” when discussing the World University Games.
“The competition at a student level these days has almost become like all the other high-profile events across the world,” she says. “The reason being, there is very little difference in these events, as several students who competed in the FISU Games managed to qualify for these big competitions as well.”
Knight names her hero as Ugandan record holder and former 800m World Championship gold medalist Halima Nakaayi, who also rose through the ranks at the university level in Uganda, serving as an inspiration for Knight and many of her fellow student-athletes back home.
“University sports in Uganda is at a high level and was the starting point for many of the country’s most decorated athletes like Nakaayi and [multiple Olympic, World Championship and Commonwealth Games champion] Joshua Cheptegei. They all began their running careers at university level, rising up to the highest levels they have now reached.”
Knight hopes to follow in their footsteps, but also acknowledges the importance of having a degree behind her.
“I will first focus on my running career for a few years after finishing my degree to see whether I can excel. Yet I feel great knowing that if running fails, I have my education behind me, so I will be able to settle down somewhere and continue to broaden my knowledge.”