WINDHOEK - Secretary-general of the Namibia Paralympics Committee (NPC), Michael Hamukwaya, wants Namibia to secure more places at next year's Tokyo Paralympic Games as the country has so far only secured one spot.
As it currently stands, sprinter Johannes Nambala is the only Namibian para-athlete that has so far secured a place at the 16th edition of the Paralympic Games, which are slated for Tokyo, Japan from 25 August to 6 September 2020.
Nambala recently stole international headlines when he scooped two medals for Namibia at the just-ended International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The 28-year old Nambala scooped gold in the men's T13 400m and a bronze medal in the T13 100m event, which were Namibia's only medals at the Dubai competition.
The performance cemented Nambala's place at next year's Paralympic Games and he currently remains the only qualified Namibian para-athlete.
Against the backdrop of the Dubai performance, Hamukwaya yesterday expressed his dissatisfaction with the overall achievements of the team but however said it was a worthwhile experience for the youngsters and debutants that competed for Team Namibia in Dubai, where Namibia finished 41 out of 117 countries.
"We are happy with how our youngsters entered the world stage in Dubai and really did their personal best. It was very exciting and it shows us that there is a bright future for Namibian para-athletes. For them participating and pushing to reach good marks, especially the Paralympics qualifying standard times, was amazing. That's actually a very good result for us," said Hamukwaya, a renowned para-coach-cum-administrator.
As for next year's Tokyo Paralympic Games, an optimistic Hamukwaya told New Era Sport they are targeting to complete a 70% qualification rate for Tokyo 2020, adding that they will be embarking on more competitions with the hope of giving more athletes an opportunity to qualify for Tokyo.
"We only have like eight months before Tokyo, so it's not very far and like I said the only problem that we are currently facing is preparation funds for upcoming competitions, where we seek to have more athletes qualify. So as soon as we get the funds, then we can start with the preparations. I believe we stand a good chance to qualify more athletes to the Paralympics.
We are hoping to have at least some corporate companies or even government to come on board and help us with the preparation budget for us to go and compete, because without funding we cannot compete," he added.
Next year's Games will mark the second time Tokyo is hosting the Paralympics, as they were first hosted there in 1964 alongside the 1964 Summer Olympics. These Games will see the introduction of badminton and taekwondo to the Paralympic programme, replacing sailing and 7-a-side football.