Five Latvian athletes have already qualified for the Summer Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in September of this year – discus thrower, world record holder and world champion Aigars Apinis, shot putter, world vice-champion and winner of the “Latvian Annual Sports Award” in 2015, Edgars Bergs, javelin thrower Diāna Dadzīte, archer Ieva Melle and fencer Poļina Rožkova, who is at the top of the world rankings at this time.
Others who hope to achieve norms for participation in the games include horseback rider Rihards Snikus, whose last qualification round is today, January 19, in the Netherlands. Coach Darja Tihomirova says that Rihards has every intention of posting excellent results so that he can take part in the games. She said that Rihards will travel to the Netherlands today to join his horse.
Others who hope to achieve the norms by the end of May are bicycle racer Oskars Gailišs and archer Gints Jonasts. For athletics competitors Edgars Kļaviņš, Taiga Kantāne, Ingrīda Priede and Dmitrijs Silovs, the decisive event will be the Grand Prix competition in Grosseto, Italy, in May. That will be their last opportunity to qualify for the Paralympic Games.
The president of the Latvian Paralympic Committee, Daiga Dadzīte, says that a precise list of athletes for the Rio games will be prepared in May, when all of the qualifying rounds will be finished. “Those athletes who have already qualified must train intensively, because competition at the games will be intense, and each athlete hopes to win a medal,” she says. “I must add that some Paralympians who, for extraordinary reasons have not actually qualified for the games, but have taken part actively in their sport, can hope for a pass to Rio, too. The International Paralympic Committee sometimes approves additional quotas for that purpose.”
“Very important for our athletes is the money that local residents and businesses have donated for the Paralympians – EUR 23,000 in all,” says Dadzīte. “We thank the donors, because the money has allowed us to ensure regular training, equipment and participation fees for various mandatory competitions. We hope to collect the necessary sum to allow the athletes to take full part in preparations for the Paralympic Games, including qualifications competitions such as the Grand Prix in Italy.”
People who wish to help in achieving this call can ring 9000-6288 (EUR 1.42 per call) to support Paralympic marathon runner Juris Kalniņš. He will be taking part in the prestigious London Marathon on April 24, and that will be a chance to qualify for the Paralympic Games. All money raised will be used to buy an appropriate wheelchair for the athlete.
The Latvian Paralympic support campaign “They Can. Can We?” is continuing, and another EUR 17,000 are needed. That is approximately one-half of the total sum needed by the Paralympic team to get to Brazil later this year.
234 days remain until the Paralympic Games, and Latvia’s team will take part in training and qualifications competitions to get there. The total sum that is needed is EUR 40,000. Support can be given on the Tuesituvari.lv homepage, where donations can be made with payment cards. Everyone is welcome to support the achievements of our Paralympians.
The Citadele Bank launched the largest support programme for Latvian Paralympians in 2012 – the “You Are. You Can” movement, which is aimed at developing the Paralympic movement in Latvia, attract ever new differently abled people to sports, and change public opinion about such people and what they can do. In September 2015, the bank began the “They Can. Can We?” fundraising campaign to ensure as large a team for the Summer Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro as possible in 2016.