By: Mike Still
Abdulmajid Kadernani has always had a drive to succeed in the pool.
For example, when he was nine years old, the Kenyan native participated in his first-ever invitational, but came up unsuccessful. Showing his competitiveness however, Kadernani attended the same event three years later and won seven medals.
Similarly, when Kadernani was 12 years old, he attended a meet in South Africa against very high competition and came back without any hardware. One year later though, he emerged from the same event with five medals.
Kadernani’s mindset hasn’t changed since his younger years in the pool, and it’s helped him become a top-level talent.
Seeing the world
In 2010, Kadernani earned a spot to compete at the African Senior Championships in Morocco.
At just 14 years old, it was Kadernani’s first experience with the national team.
He had the opportunity to brush shoulders with elite athletes such as David and Jason Dunford – the only two swimmers in Kenyan history to qualify for the Olympics.
While Kadernani admits, he didn’t realize just how big a platform he was competing on at the time, he still learned a lot from the seasoned veterans on the team and was motivated even further to succeed.
“You’re having fun, you’re learning a lot, but you sort of look up to them (the Dunford’s) as well and you see what they’re doing and they become your idols,” says Kadernani.
Kadernani’s training continued to pay off with his selection to the All-African Games in Mozambique in 2011. At age 16, he was the youngest member of the team.
In 2013, Kadernani took on his biggest challenge yet, as he accepted a full scholarship to study and swim in Australia for his final year of high school.
He admitted that moving away from home was slightly nerve-wracking, as he was just 17, but the opportunity to train at a higher level was too big to pass up.
Ups and downs
At the time, Kadernani had his sights set on qualifying for the Commonwealth Games which were taking place the following year, and being in Australia appeared to be the right fit.
“I thought, I have this opportunity to train abroad and I can be the best too, and that was when it all changed.”
To say it all changed would be an understatement. Kadernani was in the pool for nine sessions a week, along with gym work while training in Australia. He came home in 2014 in the best shape of his life, and went on to win the National Senior Championships as one of the best swimmers in the country.
Based on his results, Kadernani naturally expected that he was going to go to the Commonwealth Games – the payoff for all of his hard work.
He received his accreditation, but just two days before he was set to leave, Kadernani was informed by the Kenyan Swimming Federation that he had been dropped from the team. He wasn’t given a valid reason for the decision.
“That just shattered my motivation completely. I just sort of wanted to quit swimming.”
Kadernani decided to focus on his academics, and came to Canada for engineering, enrolling at Ryerson University in 2014.
Despite being more immersed in his studies, Kadernani felt a void in his life. In the summer of 2015, he returned to Kenya, and began training with his old coach, as Ryerson didn’t have a swim team.
In the fall, he made the move out east, transferring to Dalhousie.
“For those few months that I was in university and not swimming I started to really miss it, which is what mainly brought me to Dalhousie, along with the engineering program,” says Kadernani.
Kadernani’s first season as a Tiger went well. Head coach Lance Cansdale’s coaching style, combined with a supportive atmosphere drove him to continue swimming despite a busy school schedule.
This year has also reaped benefits for Kadernani. This past December, he represented Kenya at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Windsor, Ontario, and he now has his sights set on qualifying for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Kadernani’s goal is to graduate from Dalhousie this spring with his engineering degree and then return to Kenya for 10 months to focus solely on his training, hoping redemption for what occurred in 2014.
“That has been my goal for a long time, and it’s kind of like vengeance. I really want to prove myself and not leave anything back.”