DEIGNA Khamal, the New Zealand-based daughter of the late Warriors and Zimbabwe Saints legend Shane Khamal has set her sights on a professional career in athletics after being selected to represent her adopted nation at the 2017 Oceania Area Championships to be held in Suva, Fiji from June 29 to July 1.
The 17-year-old budding track star, who specialises in the 400m and 800m races, was born in Zimbabwe and was two-years-old when her family migrated to New Zealand in 2001.
Her father Shane, who played for Cosmos, Triangle and Zimbabwe Saints in the domestic premiership, passed away in November 2014 in New Zealand, three months after being diagnosed with cancer.
Deigna recently set-up an online fundraising page on the New Zealand crowdfunding site Givealittle to mobilise financial resources for her to turn her 2017 Oceania Area Championships dream into a reality.
"I have been selected to represent New Zealand at the 2017 Oceania Area Championships in Suva, Fiji from June 29 to July 1. I have created this page to help fund my trip. The cost of the trip is around NZ$2 500 which covers accommodation, uniforms, insurance and travel costs. Donations of any amount would be much appreciated. Funds raised will be used to assist in accommodation fees, travel fees and uniforms," she says in a statement on the crowdfunding site.
Deigna, who is based in Cambridge, Hamilton - which is affectionately known locally as the town of champions due to its gold-medal winning Olympian residents - said her ultimate dream is to compete at the Olympic Games.
"It is very inspiring seeing people such as Mahe Drysdale and Sarah Ulmer [former medal-winning Olympic cyclists] roaming around town. I aspire to be like them; I would love to be added to the list of Cambridge Olympians. It is so important to have positive role models for youth in our communities; it would be an honour to be one of the future generations of New Zealand Olympians. I believe that everyone serves a purpose in life and if you have a goal then you have to go after it," Deigna says.