Popularly known as the ‘Iron Lady’ of Namibian sport, incumbent Deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Agnes Tjongarero, has joined the chorus of the discontents throwing jabs at local sports scribes for their inability to constructively define and divorce Paralympic athletes from those with intellectual disabilities.
Tjongarero echoed the concerns of local basketball guru and sports administrator Charles Nyambe, who urged sports journalists to get their ducks in the row.
Nyambe fired his salvos when speaking at the welcoming ceremony for the returning victorious Special Olympics team, at the NamPower Convention Centre in Windhoek yesterday.
“We have been inundated with calls and numerous requests as to why Johanna Benson did not accompany the team to the United States. This is because some of the media houses created the confusion, when visuals of (Paralympics) disabled bodied athletes were shown instead of (Special Olympics) athletes with intellectual disabilities,” said a clearly agitated Nyambe.
On her part, Tjongarero requested the media not to cause confusion with irresponsible and reckless reporting.
“There is a clear distinction between Paralympics and Special Olympics. The latter caters for able-bodied athletes with no physical disturbances but who are intellectually challenged, while Paralympics is for athletes with physical deficiencies.”
The vibrant deputy minister applauded the near faultless display of local athletes with disabilities at various august events, notably the Special Olympics entourage that set the scene alight in Los Angeles, USA.
Veteran roadrunner Ruben // Gowaseb, 37, claimed an astonishing gold medal in the 21km half-marathon, showing 27 competitors a clean pair of heels.
“It’s a massive achievement of any kind in the annals of our sporting history and this will not go unnoticed. Indeed, I’m very proud to announce that this feat will be reciprocated in the most dignified manner. So, you (Ruben) can rest assured that the portfolio ministry will engage with its partners to come up with something comprehensive as a token of appreciation.”
In her parting shot, Tjongarero urged sports administrators to cast the net wide if they are to unearth raw talent from the untapped rural areas. “I challenge you to go out to the regions and discover young talented athletes, and nurture and integrate them into proper systems.”
The Namibian lawmaker also applauded NamPower for its tireless commitment to the development of athletes with disabilities.
The 12-member Namibian entourage to the US participated in three different disciplines, namely, basketball (men), the half-marathon and 100m sprint, where Kuisebmond sprinting sensation Bernice Snewe finished 7th overall in a strong field of eight sprinters.
Plagued by an assortment of injuries, the depleted Namibian basketball team gave a good account of themselves with a commendable 4th place finish in the overall standings, upon completion of the weeklong global showpiece.
The Namibians opened their assault with a narrow 22-23 loss to Germany, followed by another nail-biter against Austria, losing 24-31.
However, the gutsy Namibians dusted themselves off and came out victorious in their 3rd match against Kazakhstan (22-16), before ending their journey with a 13-23 defeat at the hands of Cyprus.