SWAKOPMUND – One of Namibia’s leading para-cyclists Roodly Gowaseb has said the recent Nedbank Desert Dash was a great body and mind booster for them ahead of next year’s major international competitions.
Gowaseb competed in last weekend’s dash along with teammates Nico Kharuxab, Modestu Lipuleni and Gabriel Nghiishililwa, while substitute Lucas Ndahangwapo was also in the mix.
They hand-cycled through extreme windy conditions and dusty bending roads for close to 400km from Windhoek to Swakopmund, which was a first for the para-cyclists.
Despite the physically and physiologically-demanding route of the popular Nedbank Desert Dash, Gowaseb said it was a challenge they welcomed and embraced with both hands, as it prepared them for major international competitions lined up for early next year.
Gowaseb, who captained the team, shared that the race gave them a new perspective on how to be mentally prepared for the big stage and how to adjust techniques when the going gets tough during major races.
“It was a huge challenge taking part in the Desert Dash but the experience was tremendous. We had to race through the night and through difficult roads, but we always knew that our goal was to finish the race. I believe after the distance from Windhoek to Swakopmund, we have gained exposure on how to do things differently and this has put me in the right position mentally and physically ahead of upcoming competitions abroad next year,” he said.
He added that next year’s calendar of para-events looks hectic, but he is not much concerned with his preparedness for upcoming competitions because the recent dash turbocharged him and his teammates quite well.
“The race had a huge impact on us as para-athletes as it has now opened doors for more para-athletes to come through and compete next year. I really want to encourage my fellow para-athletes to take up new challenges and improve through the process. Obviously going forward, we will start using the Desert Dash to prepare for big events because it is really a huge testing event for any cyclist.”
Meanwhile, Jean-Paul Schmidt of the Run Along Foundation, which had eight visually-impaired cyclists competing in the dash, said it was a huge platform for the visually-impaired cyclists, who usually do not have many opportunities to compete in local or international events due to their conditions and the costs that come with their participation.
The Run Along Foundation team was led by Mateus Kambudu, Sem Shikondjele, Fillemon Lotto and George Nehwaya, who cycled together with Stevenson Hamukoto, Robert Nambambi, David Haluteni and Naftal Paulus, as their pilots to assist them in navigating the route.
“This was a huge milestone for the para-athletes at large, especially having to compete in a big event such as the dash. The race definitely had an impact on them as athletes. They got enough exposure and also gave enough competition time for those who are preparing to compete in some international events,” he said.
Schmidt added the coaches also got an opportunity to properly gauge their athletes and see how and where they need to be adjusted.
“There are many upcoming competitions lined up for next year and with the exposure received at the dash, we now have hope that this will as well assist in preparations for selecting teams for competitions such as the Paralympics and other top summer games.”