Usually, when Paralympians achieve milestones at big events, their triumphs frequently overshadow the crucial roles running guides play, and local athletics coach Letu Hamhola yesterday reemphasised the outstanding sacrifices guides continue to make for the sport.
During yesterday’s handover ceremony of N$220 000 to the Tokyo Paralympics medallists, Hamhola reiterated the growing calls for guides to get more recognition and rewards, just like the para-athletes they continue to guide to medals at major global events.
“The guides play a huge role and most of the time their efforts go unnoticed. The guides run, talk and tell the athletes exactly where they are during the race because there is a plan to be executed as a team. If the guide gets tired before the athlete, it means the sprinter will be left in a vulnerable position, so it means they should always be on course. The athletes’ performances fully depend on the guide who has to remain on course to ensure that most of these things are well accomplished,” he explained.
Ananias Shikongo, who won silver in the men’s T11 400m, pocketed N$100 000 from the donated amount, while Nambala, who scooped bronze in the men’s T13 400m at the same games, got N$70 000. Guide Shimanda received N$50 000 as a token of appreciation for helping Shikongo achieve silver.
MTC also gifted the three athletes and their coach Hamhola with the latest iPhone 12s.
Hamhola thanked MTC for recognising and celebrating the achievements of the para-athletes and their guide, saying more such gestures need to be replicated by other companies.
Meanwhile, Shimanda equally appealed for more recognition for the crucial roles they continue to play as guides.
“When we competed at the last Paralympics in Brazil, people did not recognise the guides, it was just the athletes. As for the T11 category, runners are really vulnerable without the work of the guides,” he said.
Also giving thanks to MTC, both Nambala and Shikongo said the money received comes at the right time, as it will help them prepare better for next year’s Commonwealth Games.