nra.lv is reporting today that Latvian Paralympians will recieve €0 in government support for their 2016 Paralympic qualification campaigns. In response to complaints about the level of funding from the Latvijas Paralimpiskās Komitejas, the Ministry of Education and Science responded by saying they can go on strike just like the teachers.
Latvijas Paralimpiskās Komitejas President Daiga Dadzīte was quoted by nra.lv as saying, “It is insulting, because at the moment Paralympians with high achievements returning from the London Paralympic Games, government ministers met them at the airport and passed a resolution about their success in Parliament, but when requesting some funding for sports routed directly to Paralympic athletes in preparations for the Paralympic Games, they get a rejection.” She went on to say, “We, the Latvijas Paralimpiskās Komitejas, asked for a grant of €170,000 for elite sports achievements in 2015 in order to ensure the best Latvian Paralympic athletes’ skills and preparation for the summer Paralympic Games, which will be held next year in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.” This grant was rejected and €0 funding was given, with Dadzīte blaming a culture that looks down on people with disabilities.
In contrast on the able-bodied side, the three organizations that support the Latvian Olympic efforts, Latvijas Olimpiskā komiteja, Latvijas Olimpiskā vienība and Latvijas Olimpiešu sociālais fonds, have a budget this year of €5,491,096. On the disability side, € 250,000 was allocated for the year to be divided amongst 19 different disability sport federations. Some of these federations support elite individual athletes while others support national teams. Dadzīte said of the €250,000, “This funding is for the whole year in our sport, for it can only maintain ongoing, but not to develop or support the Paralympic athletes’ preparation. This means that we can forget about developing new athletes, coaches, winter Paralympic sports like skiing and snowboarding, because there is no money to develop to the level of the Paralympic Games. […] The most pain is to hear that Paralympic sport can not be compared with the Olympics and thatthe Latvian state should only provide financial support to the best athletes, the highest level of Latvian athletes – Olympians.”
Recently, London Paralympian Aigars Apinis made national news after selling some of his gold medal from the men’s shot put F52-53 and silver medal from the men’s discus throw F51-53 that he won in London in order to finance his training and qualification run for the Rio Games.
Latvia sent 8 athletes to the 2012 Summer Paralympics. They included track and field competitors Edgars Kļaviņš, Aigars Apinis, Andis Ozolnieks, Dmitrijs Silovs, Liene Gruzīte and Taiga Kantāne, equestrian Rihards Snikus, and swimmer Jānis Plotnieks.
A number of athletes are currently planning to or are actively trying to qualify for the 2016 Summer Paralympics including track and field competitors Ingrīda Priede, Aigars Apinis, Dmitrijs Silovs, Edgars Bergs, Liene Gruzīte, Taiga Kantāne and Edgars Kļaviņš, equestrian Rihards Snikus, wheelchair fencer Poļina Rožkova, archers Ieva Melle and Gints Jonasts, swimmer Jānis Plotnieks, and cyclist Oskars Gailišs.