By John Tuerijama
AFTER lighting up the 2016 Paralympics earlier this year, Namibia’s athletes with disabilities have now turned their attention to the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games scheduled for March 14 to 25 2017 in Austria.
At least 3 000 athletes from 100 countries are expected to compete at the Winter Games next year.
It will be the second time Austria will be home to a World Games. In 1993 Austria hosted a hugely successful Special Olympics World Winter Games and demonstrated then how a world event can be a catalyst for not only the development of Special Olympics, but for advancing public policy, attitudinal change and inclusion of people with disability.
“In March 2017, Austria will once again, open the hearts and minds of people towards people with intellectual disability, creating opportunities for inclusion leading to equality, acceptance and change in society whilst, at the same time making an invaluable contribution to the quality of life of the athletes and their families, both in Austria and globally,” said Hermann Kröll, President of Special Olympics Austria and the 2017 World Winter Games.
Disability Sport Namibia (DSN) president, Charles Nyambe, said it was important for the athletes to redirect their focus to the Winter Olympic Games and to once again make the country proud.
Although the Winter Games will include nine sports codes, Namibia will only participate in floor hockey and floor ball. The Namibian team was selected and trained in April this year, in preparation for next year’s event.
Nyambe is optimistic that just as they did in Rio, the Namibian athletes will again do the country proud and come back from Austria with medals.
Overall, Nyambe was very happy with the performance of athletes with disability on the international circuit, having won medals at last year’s All Africa Games and Summer Paralympics this year.
Nyambe said Namibia’s performance at the Paralympics in Rio was absolutely outstanding, adding that with more financial backing athletes with disabilities can do much better at future events such as the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Just like other national sport bodies experiencing problems, DSN is no exception. Nyambe said the main challenge is the lack of awareness and limited resources ploughed into disability sport.
“The decision makers must begin to invest more resources in disability sports as there is a need to double resources to make up for the modifications of equipment and extra support that people with disabilities require.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015