DSN to the rescue of stranded Paralympians

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RIO DE JANEIRO, 09 September 2016 - Namibian sprinter Johannes Nambala after the T12, men's 100m final at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He finished second behind the world record holder Jason Smyth of Ireland. (Photo by: Hesron Kapanga) NAMPA

Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-After weeks of emotional distress and uncertainty, the secretary-general of the Namibia Paralympics Committee (NPC) Michael Hamukwaya yesterday confirmed that they have finally secured funds to send four of the country’s top Para-athletes to London for this year’s World Championships.

Just a few weeks ago, the participation of the country’s athletes in the upcoming International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships, slated for London’s Olympic Stadium on July 14-23, was uncertain after the government – through the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) – said they were not in a position to finance the team’s trip to the UK.

Initially, five Namibian athletes qualified for the World Championships – they were Ananias Shikongo, Johannes Nambala, Johanna Benson, Lahja Ishitile and Aino Mushila but Benson later had to withdraw due to an assortment of injuries.

As per earlier budget submissions, NPC said it needed about N$700,000 to fully cover the travelling and accommodation expenses of the athletes and their guides as well as the various officials but due to the scarcity of funds and the withdrawal of Benson, Hamukwaya said they now only needed about N$470,000.

Fortunately, NPC’s mother body Disability Sport Namibia (DSN) heard the athletes’ cry and came to their rescue by availing the needed N$470,000 to ensure the remaining four athletes are able to represent the country at the global championships.

Although the N$470,000 has been secured, NPC still has to secure additional funds to pay for the athletes’ registration fees but have in the meantime negotiated with IPC to provisionally allow the Namibian athletes to participate while they make plans to pay the money. The team leaves next Tuesday.

Para-athletes have been in the lead when it comes to collecting medals at international level. The support towards these athletes, however, is said to not be forthcoming. Shikongo and Nambala are set to defend their titles at these games.

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