By John Tuerijama
THE Namibia Paralympic team left for Bloemfontein, South Africa to compete in the annual Nedbank South Africa Sport with Disabilities championships amid high expectations to bring home more medals.
During the 2017 edition, Namibia brought home 13 gold, nine silver and five bronze medals, despite gluing their sight on more medals, the Namibian athletes will also be classified in the different disciplines.
In an interview with Confidente this week Paralympian Head Coach, Michael Hamukwaya said despite eyeing more medals at the championships, the athletes will be classified by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) standard.
Hamukwaya said after classification, the Namibia Paralympic Committee will start preparing athletes for the 2020 Olympic Games scheduled for Tokyo, Japan.
He added that the Paralympic athletes will also be readied for the future All African Games, including the world championship, and the junior world championships. Apart from the three seasoned Paralympians Johanna Benson, Johannes Nambala and Lahja Ishitile, the Namibia Paralympic Committee selected a fresh team of 36 athletes from last year’s national championships to compete at the South African national championships.
Hamukwaya, who left for the United States of America (USA) on Sunday to attend a month-long coaching course, left the Namibian team being coached by a Cuban coach Barbara Fernadez.
Fernadez told this publication on enquary that the national Paralympic team was fairly new, but expressed confidence in the new talent, as Namibia was looking at preparing the athletes for the 2020 Olympic Games.“I have confidence in these athletes. I think Namibia will be able to have four athletes at the 2020 games. I am very happy with the fitness level of our athletes, and I think they can deliver by winning more medals at the championships,” she said.
Sending off the team, Deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service Agnes Tjongarero, warned athletes of unbecoming behaviours, as she urged them to listen to instructions from their team manager. The national team had a four-day training camp sponsored by Namibia Beverages through their Coca Cola brand.
Tjongarero urged the National Paralympic Committee to add more T40 athletes to the national team.
The deputy minister said the new athletes have a daunting task to overcome by filling the shoes of the likes of Benson and Ananias.
“I am happy to see that we have four of our T40 athletes (dwarfs) especially from the regions. I know that you are a new team, and the work that lies ahead is very tough.
“Namibian Paralympic athletes have done the country proud by winning medals at the Olympic Games and it is upon you to ensure that you do the same by bringing home gold medals at the international competitions.
“If you do not bring home gold at least the best you can do is to bring silver medals and do not be afraid of your competitors, but simply go and do your level best.
“I am very confident that you will make us proud. Listen to your coaches, and do not go and do anything else like misbehaving and tarnish the country’s image,” said the deputy minister.
Deputy Director for Sports with Disabilities, Jo-an Manuel implored on the corporate sector to come on board, and assist with the development of sports for people with disabilities. The visibly frustrated Tjongarero urged the Sports Commission leadership to enlist the services of Namibian coaches instead of relying on expatriates.
The Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) Chief Administrator Freddy Mwiya gave the Paralympic committee a ‘thumbs up’ for having done exceptionally well in the African competitions as well as the past Olympic Games.Government through the Sports Commission availed transport and paid for the accommodation costs including the athlete’s pocket money.
Athletes selected are: Bertha Hausiku, Justina Kapango, Olivia Iyambo, Lahya Ishitile, Maria Simon, Krista Kapesi, Natalia Kambo, Lovisa Petrus, Sylvia Shivolo, Johanna Benson, Eino Mushila, Johannes Nambala, Kamuti Mushonga, Masule Mazila, Bradley Murere, Leonard Amadhila, George Patuuomasa, Bernando Immanuel Alfred, Marungu Christopher, Dian Jansen, Benedictus Blaauw, Tangeni Ashipala, Manfred Ashipala, Donald Hanavi, Frans HenrichDavid Shaningwa, Karuli Petrus Kasanga, Denzel Namene, Izakiel Chumba, Ismael Shatimwene, Simon Shihepo, Etchegaray Nguluwe, Sydney Kamwaruuma, David Ndeilenge, Sissisngi Wendilimus, Richard Goroseb, Aluvilu Pelagia, MemoryKahlari and Julia Halweendo
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015