Windhoek — A strong contingent of Namibia's top para-athletes left for London yesterday, where they will represent the country at the upcoming International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships in the UK.
The championships, which will be staged at the Olympic Stadium in London, will start on Friday and run until July 25.
The team is lead by Namibia's 2016 Paralympic Games gold medalist Ananias Shikongo and includes Johannes Nambala, Lahja Ishitile and Eino Mushila. The guides are Even Tjiuju (for Shikongo) and Sydney Kamuaruuma (for Ishitile).
The team yesterday received a warm send-off in the capital, where First National Bank (FNB) Namibia also used the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment towards sport development when it announced a sponsorship of N$220,000 to help the Namibia Paralympics Committee (NPC) with the athletes' participation.
It was also disclosed yesterday that the two would go into a one-year sponsorship agreement. FNB Corporate Social Investment Manager Revonia Kahivere said the bank through their Namibia Foundation Trust decided to assist NPC to meet their financial challenges ahead of the London trip. The athletes' participation in the world championships was uncertain due to unpaid participation fees, the cost of accommodation and meals. The NPC was partly assisted by Disability Sport Namibia (DSN) with more than N$400,000 but the money was not enough to cover all the trip expenses, hence FNB's timely financial intervention.
The send-off ceremony was also attended by Namibia Sports Commission chief administrator Freddy Mwiya, Sport Commissioner Peter Wilson, deputy director of marginalised people and women in sport in the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, Jo-Ann Manuel, FNB corporate social investment manager Revonia Kahivere and NPC secretary general Michael Hamukwaya.
Collectively, the above-mentioned administrators and FNB's Kahivere urged the athletes to represent the country with pride and to ensure they deliver the desired results by bringing medals home.
The IPC Athletics World Championships sees athletes with physical disabilities and in a few events, with intellectual disabilities, compete. Initially it was staged every four years, but this changed in 2011 and it is now held every two years.