By Gilbert Wandera
She may not have won any medal at the just concluded Paralympic Games in London, but Mary Nakhumicha still lifted the country’s name high by winning a prestigious award conferred on athletes who have made significant contribution to sport.
Nakhumicha was female winners of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award given out by the International Paralympic Committee to the best male and female sportsperson during the special Olympics. The men’s winner was Ireland’s Michael McKillop.
The award comes with a special gold medal, a brand new wheel chair, and the latest version of an iPad. Nakhumicha, who participated in the shot put F57 and javelin, was honoured for changing the face of Paralympic sport in the African Continent, according to organisers.
The committee, while conferring the award, noted that it was because of her success in international events that more women with disabilities have taken interest in sports.
Nakumicha told The Standard on arrival from London early this week that she felt honoured to have won the award and saying she had been recognised for her contribution to the growth of the sport.
“I was surprised when my name was mentioned as a recipient of the award. Never in my life have I ever imagined that I would one day get such global recognition,” said Nakhumicha, who was paralysed by polio at an early age. She said the recognition has given her motivation to do well in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
“This award adds to my motivation to do even better in future. It is true I have done this for a long time, but now is not the time to exit.”
She said competition was tough in London and called on the Government to increase resources allocated to Paralympic sports for them to compete with the rest of the world.
It has been a long road to success for Nakhumicha, who first represented the country at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona where she won a javelin gold medal. Her feat then made her only the fourth Kenyan to win a field event in the Paralympics.
Four years later in Atlanta, she won a silver medal in shot put. When the games were held in Sydney in 2000, she was a bronze medallist in shot put, but did not win anything in Athens in 2004. She bounced back with a silver medal in shot put at the 2008 Beijing games.