One-handed archer shooting for the stars

• By Michael Uugwanga

BORN with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, Katelynn Venter was prevented from being able to walk, but this did not stop her from going after her goals as an archer.

The 17-year-old, has three year experience as an archer, is making a name for herself in the sport and at the same time she aims to become the first Namibian para-archer to represent the country at major international competitions such as Paralympics, World Championships, All-Africa Games and the Commonwealth Games.

Venter who was born in Cape Town, South Africa has a Namibian citizenship and wants to raise awareness for other athletes with her condition that they too can also fulfill their dreams of competing it in sport.

Para-archery is a sport code for athletes classified as having a physical or visual impairment, and she, therefore wants to become the first Namibian para-archer to grace at an international competition.

“I was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and I am paralysed from the waist down.I started archery about three years ago with the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). In 2020, I moved over to target archery. Archery adds value to me as a paraplegic and it gives me confidence and self-worthy.

“I train during the week in Walvis Bay and weekends in Swakopmund with my coach. My aim is not only to become Namibia’s first Olympic para-archer but also to raise awareness for other paraplegics. As a para-archer the challenges are endless,” Venter said.

She added, “I only started target archery during the high peak stage of Covid-19, I have only competed in the Namibian nationals,” she added.

She said South Africa’s born para-archer, Shaun Anderson was her role model, whom she wants to follow in her footsteps.

Anderson was paralysed from the waist down after a boating accident, and was at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, held last year due to Covid-19 related delays.

She does the archery sport with one arm after her left arm was amputated after a motorcycle accident in 2004.

“My idol is Shaun Anderson as he knows exactly what I am facing with daily hardships just like him. In the next five years, my aim is to see myself at the Paralympic Games. Currently I do not have a sponsor . For those in the same situation as I am, I could like to motivate them with Leo Buscagia’s quote ‘the very nature that makes you dream it, makes in possible’,” Venter said.