THE Namibia Paralympic Committee (NPC) is committed to having reasonable representation at this year’s Paralympic Games scheduled for Paris, France, from 28 August to 8 September.
Speaking to Desert Radio recently, NPC secretary general Michael Hamukwaya said 2024 is an important year for local Paralympic athletes to qualify for the Games in France.
“It is a big year for us with our athletes focused on the Athletics Namibia (AN) grand prix, scheduled for Swakopmund on 27 January.
“It will be the best event as athletes are looking at getting international rankings and qualification to get the required entry points for the Paris Games.”
“This year’s events are quite exciting and the good thing is that the grand prix is within reach. They are taking place in Namibia.”
“Most of the time, we usually have to travel elsewhere on the continent to go and compete for the slot allocated.
“Slots are within the country for athletes to be internationally classified,” said Hamukwaya.
The much awaited AN grand prix for 2024 will kick off at Swakopmund on Saturday, with the second grands prix scheduled for 10 February in Windhoek and the third pencilled for 2 March at the Oshakati Independence Stadium. The Khomas regional athletic championship is slated from 29 to 30 March, with the senior national athletics championship scheduled for 12 to 13 April.
Hamukwaya said: “Local athletes are given an opportunity through the AN grand prix, which are sanctioned by the national athletics’ body to get their world rankings and classifications.”
Athletes not ranked and classified can use the grand prix to kick-start their careers to start building up their points for future national team selection, he added.
“As you know, we also have the Commonwealth Games coming in 2026. These events are approaching and the qualification for those events have already started,” said Hamukwaya.
“It is quite important to have athletes getting busy and that the grand prix events have spread out to April to keep our Paralympic athletes very busy.”He said from now on, the Paralympic athletes have a chance to be in the ranking by taking part in the grand prix.
Hamukwaya welcomed the decision by the AN leadership to include Paralympic athletes in their competitions.
“We cannot do these without the help of AN and have demonstrated that by having extended the invitation to NPC to have our Paralympic athletes compete in the grand prix.”
Hamukwaya said that Paralympic sport is growing, with not only AN working with the NPC, but also with other sport federations and clubs which are giving ample time and opportunities to Paralympic athletes.
“Taking part in the grand prix means that our athletes will have the same chances and qualify within the borders of Namibia starting with the grand prix on 27 January at Swakopmund.”
He said following Namibia’s excellent performances internationally and regionally, parents have been and are changing their mindset with regard to Paralympic sport, and there are those who approach the NPC to see what sport codes are on offer.
NSSU CALLED ON
Hamukwaya called on the Namibia Schools Sport Union (NSSU) to be inclusive in their programmes and activities at school level.
He said in most cases pupils with a physical challenge are never given opportunities to take part in any NSSU – related sporting events.
“Teachers have also given excuses of not having the knowledge and in the end, kids are left out. If there is an NSSU volleyball competition, they can also include a sitting volleyball team for pupils [that are] physically challenged,” Hamukwaya said.
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