Will She be the first Ugandan Ice Skating Olympian?

Linda Ke·mi·gi·sha - UGANDA


  • Finalist in the senior bronze category at the Alberta/Northwest Territories/Nunavut STARSkate & Adult Championships (2014)
  • Attained a Red Cross level 9 in swimming (2014)
  • Finalist in the junior bronze category at the Alberta/Northwest Territories/Nunavut STARSkate & Adult Championships (2013)
  • Most improved skater (Intermediate B) at the Derrick Skating Club (2011/2012)
  • Junior development skater of the year (2009/2010)

At just 11 years, Linda Kemigisha Byabagambi – who was born in Uganda but relocated to Canada at age 2 – is both a skating princess (as her mother likes to call her) and a swimming sensation!

It would seem that there is something about the sport of swimming that is somewhat un-African. Despite the presence of many water bodies in Africa, few Africans have mastered the art of swimming. It is even now recognized as a skill deficiency issue among African-Americans!

It is therefore refreshing that in sporting activities that have witnessed decades of total Euro-western domination, a young African-Canadian is making waves and setting new heights.     

How it all started

Linda began taking skating, gymnastics and swimming lessons at the tender age of 4.

To her parents – James and Miriam Byabagambi - enrolling Linda in these sports at such a young age was an avenue to equiping her with the basic skills needed to interact with her peers in and out of school.

PhotoProfile: Linda, the Skating Princess

To start with, her capability to learn and excel in these sports wasn’t initially apparent. As is common with most kindergartens in Canada, Linda’s had skating and swimming lessons but she would sit on the sideline since she could neither swim nor skate. 

At that point, her parents took the decision to enrol her in the sports programs and not long after, Linda fell in love with swimming and skating. Then began a journey into the unknown for the graceful and truly charismatic young lady and her supportive parents.

Shortly after Linda took to skating and swimming, her parents saw the need to encourage her to the highest level in order to demystify the widely acknowledged notion that both sporting activities are essentially limited to Euro-westerners.

Whereas Linda has continued to excel in both sports, swimming now majorly serves as a complement for her first love, skating. In the 7 years since Linda began skating, she has obtained a total of 15 certifications!

Mastery of Sports

Currently in skating, Linda - a grade 6 pupil of Edmonton’s Westbrook School - has mastered gold dances, junior silver skating skills, senior bronze freeskate (elements) and the senior bronze freeskate (program).

In swimming, Linda has attained the Red Cross level 9.

Linda isn’t done yet; her parents’ finances permitting, she hopes to obtain her Can-Skate coaching license when she turns 16 so that she could commence coaching beginners in skating. When this comes to pass, Linda will be the first licensed African skating coach in this clime!

Total Package

While skating and swimming lessons and participation in competitions take an awful lot of her time, Linda hasn’t been slack in other aspects of her human development. 

Her other skills include the ability to play the piano and sing. Since age 4, she has performed as a soloist in various musicals at her local church. In addition, she participates in track and field, a sport she plans to devote more time to in Junior High School in order to enhance her fitness level.

Linda has also found time – in a bid to boost her interactive skills - to enrol in a baby-sitting course that she would be completing in March 2014.

To those who might think that Linda may be spreading herself too thin, her stellar sporting engagements and performances are second to her academic achievements: Linda continues to be a straight ‘A’ pupil at her school leaving us in absolute awe of her spirit and her innate desire to succeed. 

Linda is proof that kids’ who engage in sports and other extracurricular activities are well on their way to having great social skills and enviable mental capacities.

Beyond her little sister, Linda is a role model for other little girls and adults in the African community in Edmonton. Linda's successes on the ice has become popular with some parents who have not only enrolled their daughters but have also taken up the sport (who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?).


Linda's training regime requires a significant capital outlay as the rink where she practises has to be booked as well as her coaching team paid on an hourly basis. Her lessons coordinated by her skating coach - Wanda MacKinnon - with her choreographer - Megan Gage - (both of the Derrick Skating Club) are frequent, thus financially tasking her parents.

Miriam, Linda's mother and doctoral student at the University of Alberta, cautions parents that a good skating program requires "a good financial commitment" saying that it is "strenuous financially and physically as you have to drive back and forth but it is well worth it!"

"... Financial support to obtain as much training as possible to build her skills to a desired level. She skates all year round to remain competitive, and this requires a good financial commitment" Miriam

She, however, advises interested parents thus: "do not be afraid of engaging your children because you never know where they will excel. Do not allow stereotypes to block your decision." 

Beautiful future

Fans of the Winter Olympics where the Americans, Russians, Canadians, Italians, and East-Europeans dominate should watch out for Linda at the 23rd Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018 where she is sure to storm the ice to strut her stuff. She hopes to participate in the Olympics as a professional skater. She continues to train assiduously and compete towards making her dream a reality.

Whether she will fly the Ugandan or Canadian flag at the Olympics is yours to guess. One thing, though, is certain: Linda is making her mark and the glass ceiling has been shattered. 

Unveiling Linda

Favourite book: Ally Condie's The Matched Trilogy

Favourite Movies: Avatar and The Last Air Bender

Role Model: Gabby Douglas, America's Olympic gold medallist gymnast (for her determination and fearlessness).  

Some of Linda's Skating Certifications 

Preliminary Free Skate - Elements

Junior Bronze Free Skate - Elements

Senior Bronze Free Skate – Elements

Preliminary Free Skate – Program

Junior Bronze Free Skate – Program

Senior Bronze Free Skate – Program

Preliminary Dance

Linda's other Skating Certifications

Junior Bronze Dance

Senior Bronze Dance

Junior Silver Dance

Senior Silver Dance

Preliminary Skating Skills

Junior Bronze Skating Skills

Senior Bronze Skating Skills

Junior Silver Skating Skills

Linda is available for sponsorship -corporate or personal. For more information, please contact us at info@afrospora.com

Video showing Linda practising her moves

Photos and video courtesy Miriam Sekandi

Student Image: 
Uganda's First Skating Olympian?
Website Designed & Developed by: WebCube