Michael Hamukwaya, the secretary general of the Namibia Paralympic Committee (NPC), is hoping that para-athletes will be given more opportunities to compete in main events of future FNB Botswana Grand Prix events.
Speaking to this publication after the grand prix held in Gaborone recently, Hamukwaya said while para-athletes were given space to compete in promotional races at the event, these were more like curtain raisers to the main events.
Para-athletes performed well in the promotional races, thus Hamukwaya urged organisers to consider including these athletes in the main races in future.
“The organisers managed to include our para-athletes in the promotional events which were done in the morning. It showed that inclusivity can be done anywhere, and we are now hoping that next year, they will push to have at least three races in the main events which would assist them (athletes) in qualifying,” he said. He highlighted the fact that it is costly to send para-athletes abroad to compete in qualifying events, thus including para-athletes in the main event would give them a platform to qualify in Botswana, thereby easing the costs of funding their travels elsewhere off the continent to try and qualify for international events.
“If the competition can grow that big and include qualifying events, it would ease the pressure of us sourcing funds to send athletes overseas to compete in qualifying events. The cost would be taken down as it will be easier for us to travel from Namibia to Botswana.” Public relations officer of the FNB Gaborone Grand Prix Calistus Kolantsho shared Hamukwaya’s sentiments and emphasised the importance of giving all athletes, including athletes with disabilities, opportunities to qualify for major events. He stated that they are working hard to ensure that para-athletes in the region (SADC) receive such opportunities by including more para events.
“We aim to provide ample opportunities for all athletes, both able-bodied and disabled, across our region. Our objective is to include more para events, which will provide them with greater opportunities to qualify for major events. We are working tirelessly to ensure that they receive such opportunities,” he said.