07 Feb 2017 15:00pm
WINDHOEK, 07 FEB (NAMPA) - 2016 Paralympic medallists Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala are hard at work preparing for the 2017 World Para Athletics Grand Prix.
The fifth annual Grand Prix season will begin in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 20 to 23 March.
There are nine Grand Prix events across four continents in 2017, but the Namibians will only participate in the Dubai competition. They will definitely run in the World Para Athletics Championships set for London, Great Britain, from 14 to 23 July.
Visually impaired Shikongo won a gold medal in the T11, 200 metre (m) sprint and two bronzes in 100m and 400m at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Double Paralympic silver medallist Nambala, who is also visually impaired, is also the current world champion in the mens T13, 200m sprint, a medal he won at the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Doha, Qatar last year. He also won bronze in the 400m at the same event.
Speaking to Nampa on Tuesday, NPC Secretary-General and coach Michael Hamukwaya said despite financial constraints due to national budget cuts, the NPC is working hard to keep athletes fit for major tournaments in 2017.
We do not want the athletes momentum to slow down after winning medals at the Paralympic Games last year, he said.
Due to the lack of funds they can only take two athletes to the Grand Prix, said Hamukwaya.
We selected Johny and Ananias to compete against the best the world has to offer, he said.
Hamukwaya added that national power utility, NamPower, has availed funding for their travels to the competition.
Next month, the NPC will also send a team of athletes to Port Elizabeth, South Africa to compete in the South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled and Visually Impaired national championships.
We are going to send a small team of upcoming athletes and a Boccia team to Port Elizabeth as we have a four-year cycle to prepare these athletes for the next Paralympic Games, said Hamukwaya.