Burma will host the ASEAN Para Games for the first time this December but many athletes aren’t happy with the training facilities.
The 7th ASEAN Para Games will be held just after the Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw.
At the Aung San stadium in Rangoon athletes have been training round the clock in preparation.
But many are not satisfied with the condition of the facilities. They say they are being unfairly treated and claim the able-bodied athletes have been given all the advantages.
“We lack facilities such as weights and training equipment for shot-putting, discus-throwing, and other field events,” said Aye Nwe, a track and field coach.
The dormitories that house the athletes while they train are dank and not equipped to cater for people with disabilities.
“Sometimes we have to fetch the water ourselves to have a bath or wash our faces,” said discuss thrower Ann Naung Khun, “The conditions don’t accommodate our needs.”
At the track, athletes vented dismay about the disparity in funding between able-bodied and disabled athletes.
“I know some abled-bodied athletes who get paid over 100,000 kyat (US $100) as a salary, but we get nothing, said an athlete from Rangoon. “For me, I was only given a training uniform, but some disabled athletes didn’t even get a pair of shoes.”
Aye Nwe said if disabled sports were more recognised, it would raise the profile of the athletes.
“If other sports would get the same amount of support as events like football, the athletes’ lives would be much improved,” she said.
While much attention is focused on getting ready for the SEA Games in early December, athletes competing in the Para Games risk being overlooked.