NPC wants top athletes to represent Namibia

National Paralympic Committee (NPC) secretary-general, Michael Hamukwaya, says the recently released International Paralympic Committee (IPC) standing will guide their selection of athletes who will represent Namibia at the upcoming World Para Athletics Championships.

The NPC recently concluded its World Para Athletics (WPA) 2023 European Grand Prix of Jesolo, Italy and Nottwil Grand Prix in Switzerland.

These formed part of the 10th anniversary of the WPA Grand Prix and the NPC used the opportunity to improve its athletes’ ranking ahead of the IPC World Para Athletics Championships slated for France in July 2023.

In an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Hamukwaya said six Namibian athletes are ranked in the top 10 of the IPC athletics and the NPC will take a team that can compete for podium places.

“At the World Champs in 2019 in the United Arab Emirates, we had 15 athletes representing the country but we only managed to win two medals by one athlete. So we are trying to avoid that from repeating itself,” he said, adding that the NPC will only consider athletes that are ranked in the top 10 to fight for podium places.

He said the athletes not included in the group for the World Para Athletics Championships will still have a chance to qualify for the Paralympics through the African Games that will be held in Ghana later this year.

“We just had a very successful trip to Europe where our athletes had a tough trip in Italy but improved their performances with personal bests at the Nottwil Grand Prix in Switzerland. Our goal is to acquire at least four slots for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games and the World Champs, and then at the African Games, we can add more,” Hamukwaya said.

The secretary-general said having a bigger group of athletes does not guarantee more slots.

“We need the best of the best in our team, athletes who can stand toe to toe with the best in the world,” he said.

The athletes that are currently ranked in the top 10 of the IPC are T11 male sprinters Ananias Shikongo and Chris Kinda; T11 female sprinter Lahja Ishitile; T44 sprinter Denzel Namene; T37 sprinter Petrus Karuli; and T13 sprinter Johannes Nambala.

Hamukwaya stated that for the team to perform well at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships, they need to be in camp early to prepare, but due to a lack of funds, that dream might not be realised.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

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