Local Paralympics tournament offers stepping stone to international games
THE games have just begun – and they’re going to get even bigger. The Disabled Sports Federation is holding it’s 28th national tournament this week, finishing up on November 11, at their stadium in North Dagon.
An annual tournament, this year’s iteration also serves as a warm-up for the 9th ASEAN Para Games in 2017, hosted by Malaysia.
“We aimed to appeal to a new generation of athletes in this tournament,” said U Myo Hlaing, director general of the Department of Sports and Physical Education. “New people with disabilities are joining up, and senior athletes continue to train and compete in advance of the upcoming international competition. We’ll be competitive next year.”
The national tournament features 437 athletes from around the country. A seven-day slate of 12 different sports is on offer: athletics, swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, volleyball, wheelchair basketball, bowling, archery, bocci ball, football, chess and goal ball.
The Myanmar Disabled Sports Federation will be watching closely across all events as they weigh the decision of who to promote to international competition. But it’s not all competitive – U Myo Hlaing said a big reason for the national tournament is simply motivation.
“We want to inspire those with disabilities to improve their morale,” he said. “I advise them to participate in these types of tournaments and show their talent.”
In the 2016 ASEAN Para games held in Singapore, Myanmar represented well. The Golden Land took home 16 gold medals, 17 silver medals and 29 bronze medals, with their best showing coming in the pool – they scored nine of their 16 golds in swimming events.
U Myo Hlaing said the ongoing tournament is a great platform for junior athletes to bid for their shot at glory.
“Current senior national athletes came out of this tournament,” he said. “Junior athletes can too. If they show their best form we’ll choose them for the national team.”