WINDHOEK: Five athletes accompanied by one guide left for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London last Thursday with the hopes of coming back home N.dollars 100 000 richer.
This is after the Deputy Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture Shivute Katamba announced a surprise at a gala dinner last Wednesday that those who manage to bring back medals from the Paralympic Games, will receive monetary awards.
Gold medal winners stand a chance to win a whopping N.dollars 100 000; silver medal winners N.dollars 70 000; and bronze medal winners N.dollars 40 000.
The athletes who left for London last week are Ananias Shikongo (100 metres), 200m and 400m); Martin Aloysius (200m and 400m); Johanna Benson (100m, 200m and long jump); Reginald Benade (shotput and discus); Ruben Soroseb (power-lifting); and Even Tjiviju (Shikongo’s guide).
The national coach of the Paralympic team, Mike Hamukwaya told Nampa on Monday that the athletes were surprised by the announcement, and are looking forward to competing in the Games.
“We have no injuries, and our team is very motivated to bring medals home,” he enthused.
The 14th Paralympic Games will take place from 29 August to 09 September this year.
In order to be the best in the world on their big day, athletes need the perfect preparation, and their early arrival in the United Kingdom (UK) will help them to acclimatise and attend training before the Games start, Hamukwaya stated.
He heaped praise on Barbara Fernandes, an athletics’ training expert from Cuba who’s working with the Directorate of Sports here, and who is the team’s assistant coach, for her assistance.
The training facilities at the Games provide athletes with high-quality and accessible facilities before the event kicks off.
According to Hamukwaya, the facilities allow athletes to reach peak physical and mental condition before the Games.
Over the years, Namibian Paralympic athletes have consistently won medals at numerous international events.
Benade brought home a bronze medal in the discus throw at the 2008 Paralympic Games, while another memorable performance was that of Shikongo, who won a gold medal in the 200 metre event during the 2011 All Africa Games (AAG).
A Paralympics’ team also garnered 19 medals at an event held in Durban, South Africa earlier this year, when Shikongo once again claimed three gold medals.
Hamukwaya said Benade is a gold medal hopeful for the 2012 Paralympic Games, while Benson stands a good change in the long jump.
He, however, added that “all athletes are winners.”
Hamukwaya is expected to join the team on 23 August.
The Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture Pohamba Shifeta will also be joining the 19-member delegation that will accompany the athletes to the Games.
According to international media, with less than 17 days to go until the Paralympics’ opening ceremony, more than 2,1 million tickets out of a total of 2,5 million have been sold, with organisers hoping this could be the first sell-out Paralympic Games in its 52-year history.
The previous record of 1,8 million ticket sales at Beijing in 2008 has already been overtaken.