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07 February 2017 | in Snowboard, Winter Universiade

#WUAlmaty2017: Uganda’s Brolin Mawejje overcomes obstacles to rise in snowboarding world



ALMATY — Brolin Mawejje didn’t see snow until he was 12 years old.


“The first time I saw snow, it was mesmerizing. I still remember it to this day,” said Mawejje. “I had never been cold before.”


And now, at age 24, Mawejje is one of the best snowboarders in the world — and the only one to represent the continent of Africa at the 2017 Winter Universiade.


“I am very honoured to able to represent an entire continent,” he said. “That’s crazy; 53 countries represented by one person from east Africa, who comes from the jungle with no snow.”


But it was not an easy for Mawejje to leave his native country of Uganda to move across the world and find his biological mother who he hadn’t seen in ten years.


When he arrived in Wyoming, USA, he didn’t even recognize his own mom.


“America has really become a blessing for me; it has allowed me to follow my dreams and really pursue some of my passions,” he said. “I like to say I’ve had my tough times as a kid and you get a second chance and America was my second chance.”


But as great as the United States of America was for 12-year-old Mawejje, he also struggled to bond with a mother he hadn’t seen for a decade.


“It was World War III every time I came home,” he said. “I used snowboarding as my escape. I needed snowboarding to help me ease my emotions and focus on something else that was so difficult, that I could not think of anything else but to snowboard.”


At first, Mawejje played football with his peers in order to learn English, but it was snowboarding that became his real passion.


“Snowboarding chose me, really,” he said.


But Mawejje didn’t become an expert overnight.


“The first time buckling up my snowboard was like my first time riding a horse,” he continued. “We don’t have horses in Uganda, but when I moved to Wyoming, you have to be a cowboy. It was basically; hold on for dear life and make it down.”


The Westminster College student now trains on the slopes four to six hours a day and has quickly gained success in his young snowboarding career.


“It’s a lot of dreaming and it’s a lot of hard work, and there’s a lot of injuries but I try to put in as much time as possible,” he said. “I know my peers and some of my colleagues that I’m competing against have been [snowboarding] their whole lives — it’s like second nature to them, it’s like walking … but I don't let that deter me, so I look at it like, you had the first half of your life to put the time in, I’m going to put every single energy that I have in the second half of my life to catch up and close that gap.”


Mawejje’s ultimate goal is to become Uganda’s first Olympic snowboarder.


“When you put a challenge in front of me, I’m the type of person who wants to answer you wrong and show you that I can answer your challenge and overcome that; so snowboarding was that perfect challenge for me,” he said. “If you have the heart, if you have that fire, you can do it. I want to be that example to show people.”


Kelcey Wright Johnson, U-Media Reporter


Check out the video here!


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