Namibian wheelchair cyclists off to SA

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Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-Namibian veteran wheelchair cyclist, Frans ‘Tupac’ Paulus yesterday led a three-member wheelchair cycling team to George, South Africa, where it will represent the country at the annual Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge, starting on 18 February.
Coach Ndengu Damian accompanies the team, which includes Paulus himself and two upcoming cyclists, Roodly Gowaseb and Kamanye Kapuma.

Secretary-general of the Namibian Paralympics Committee (NPC), Michael Hamukwaya, yesterday gave the team a warm send off during a brief press conference held at the Namibia School Sports Union offices in the capital, where he called on the three para-cyclists to use the opportunity to make the country proud while gaining exposure at that level.

“As NPC, we have a four-year strategy that aims to identify and harness raw talent and grant them an opportunity to compete at the highest level. We have achieved remarkable results in the track and field events and now the plan is to identify athletes in various codes such as wheelchair cycling and others and give them an opportunity to grow and compete at that level as well. NPC is proud to be associated with these cyclists and we wish them all the best during their participation at the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge,” said Hamukwaya.

Paulus, who recovered from a two-year back injury, will compete in the 42km hand cycling race while Gowaseb and Kapuma participate in the 21km wheelchair race. The three cyclists and their mentor left for South Africa yesterday and will be back home next week Wednesday.

This year’s event has seen an increase in entries, as athletes with disability in various fields have all shown willingness to compete for top honours at this year’s event.

The Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge has been staged successfully for the past six years, growing from humble beginnings of only 27 entries in 2002 (then known as the Outeniqua Chair Challenge) to the now magnificent race attracting close to 600 participants.

Athletes in racing wheelchairs, adapted bicycles, hand cycles, basketball wheelchairs and ordinary wheelchairs have all made this their premier sporting event for the disabled on the Southern African sporting calendar.

The challenge is not only unique as being the first and only event exclusively for the disabled in South Africa, but it is staged in the picturesque town of George, in the heart of the spectacular Garden Route in the Western Cape, situated at the foot of the splendour of the Outeniqua Mountains.

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