ONE of the country’s leading wheelchair racing athletes, Wilson Nyakoko, is over the moon after well-wishers chipped in with money for him to secure a passport that will enable him travel to South Africa to participate in the Outenqua Wheelchair Challenge race.
BY HENRY MHARA
The annual event, the premier wheelchair racing event in Africa, will be staged in the picturesque town of George in the heart of the spectacular Garden Route in the Western Cape on February 18.
Zimbabwe intends to send 15 racers (eight men and seven women) to the compete this year, but star Nyakoko, who won gold at the event, was at risk of being struck off the travelling list, as his passport had expired and was struggling to raise $253 for renewal.
But after NewsDaySport brought the plight of the athlete to the fore in our issue a fortnight ago, two locals and a United States man contacted him to give him the money.
“After the story was published in NewsDay, three people contacted me. A Mr Mhonda gave me $350 and a Mr Dzvairo $150. My friend Dave Simmons from the USA gave me $50 and I immediately applied for an emergency passport, which I have already received. I’m truly grateful to them for helping me, and may God reward them for their kindness. I also want to thank you (NewsDay) for the part you played, I’m thankful,” he said.
“I’m excited that I have been given an opportunity to go and participate and defend the title I won last year. I will use the other money to fix my hand cycle and buy other things that I can use while in South Africa. Although I’m still appealing for more help, so that I can have a perfect competition, this will go a long way. I’m hoping that my fellow athletes will also get some help from sponsors, the corporates and the government.”
Nyakoko, who won the gold medal in the 21km race last year, bemoaned lack of sponsorship for local disabled athletes, especially wheelchair, saying this had curtailed the growth of the sport despite abundance in talent.