Namibian paralympians kick-off preps for Rio 2016
Windhoek – It’s all systems go, as Namibia hope that its paralympians continue with their good form on international stage as the Paralympic committee begin preparations for the highly anticipated Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“So far our athletes are training every day and they will be competing at the All Africa Games which serve as a preparation competition towards Rio 2016. Thereafter they will head to the IPC (International Paralympics Committee) World Championship in Doha Qatar, so we believe they will be in good shape after the All Africa Games and they will qualify for Rio,” said Memory Kahlari, the Namibia Paralympics Committee (NPC) Co-coordinator.
The 11th edition of the All African Games is scheduled to take place from September 4–19, in Brazzaville, Congo. The event in the Congo will mark the 50th anniversary of the African Games.
Kahlari said Namibian athletes are aiming for good performances as has become the custom in recent years.
“What can be expected is the best from our paralympians and come Rio 2016, we are looking forward to have an intensive training camp for the team just like in 2012, the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service will fund the training camp,” Kahlari said.
This year proves to be quite hectic for the Namibian athletes as numerous events are lined up, as part of their preparation for the world’s biggest Paralympic sporting stage to be hosted by the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
“The events happening this year are part of the Road to Rio 2016 preparations and we are utilizing every opportunity that comes our way,” she said.
This year’s IPC Athletics World Championships are to be held in Doha, Qatar, from October 22-31. The event is expected to attract around 1 300 of the world’s best athletes from 90 countries and will be the last major athletics meeting before the Rio 2016 Paralympics Games.
About 4,350 Paralympians from more than 160 nations will compete at Rio 2016 in 22 sport codes, from September 7 to 18 next year.
Despite certain drawbacks, that continue to haunt the local sporting fraternity for decades, Namibia’s Para-athletes are a force to reckon with, having scooped a number of medals over the years.
“Shortcomings, yes we do have them. We still depend of our government when it comes to funding and we hope the corporate sector will come on board to support our athletes in order for us to expose them to different competitions around the world before Rio 2016,” said Kahlari.
The highly-rated youthful starlets include 18 year old, Lahja Ishitile, who won bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. In 2013, Johannes Nambala won gold at the IPC World Championships in France, Lyon in the Men’s T13 400m final, setting a championship record of 49.41 seconds. Ananias Shikongo, who is visually-impaired has also shone at international events in the 100m T11, 200m T11 and 400m T11 sprints.
Other athletes to feature throughout this year include, Johanna Benson, Namibia’s most famous Paralympic athlete who won gold at the London 2012 Games in the women’s 200m T37 race. She won silver in the women’s 100m T37 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
According the Namibian Press Agency (Nampa) the first promotional event by the Namibia Paralympics Committee (NPC) took place in Walvis Bay from July 9-12. The main objective of the event was to introduce the country’s elite Paralympians to the public, to educate Namibians about Para-athletes, and the importance of unity in sports.
Among those who attended were Lahja Ishitile, Johannes Nambala, Elias Ndimulunde, Rosa Manjoro, Ananias Shikongo, Reginald Benade, and Martin Aloysius, who have all qualified for the 2015 Paralympics World Championships.
Similar events are planned for Windhoek and Oshakati with dates to be confirmed later this month.
“To our Namibian community. We would like to thank them for believing in us and their support is much appreciated by our athletes and we hope we will make the Nation proud come Rio 2016,” Kahlari enthused.
Athletes who have qualified for the 2015 Doha Games are Lahja Ishitile, Johannes Nambala, Elias Ndimulunde, Rosa Manjoro, Ananias Shikongo, Johanna Benson and Martin Aloysius.
Kahlari said the best is yet to come, and called on the nation to rally behind the athletes as they prepare to take Namibia to the world.