Special Olympics of Malawi (Som) has selected five athletes to represent the country at this year’s Pan African Games in Cairo, Egypt, from January 23-31.
The five are Clara Phiri, Agness Lekaleka, Desire Namaona, Phyles Supuliano and Wema Supuliano.
Karonga-based Phiri, Lekaleka of Mchinji, Namaona from Lilongwe and Wema (Blantyre) will compete in the 100 and 200 metres categories while Blantyre-based Phyles is scheduled to fly the Malawi flag in the 800 and 1,500 metres contests.
The 100 and 200 metres athletes will also run in the 4×100 metres relay race.
Sam Sports Director, Doris Suwedi, said they expect to leave for Egypt on January 21.
“Our athletes are currently training at their local centres as we do not have resources to start camping in one place. The challenge is that under such circumstances, they are unable to access the right facilities to help them train better.
“The best we have done is to secure College of Medicine Sports Complex and Kamuzu Stadium for the two Blantyre-based runners but for the three who are in the Central and Northern Regions, it is not easy for them as they are training using basic equipment,” Suwedi said.
She said they need about K777,000 to cover camping expenses and purchase training equipment.
“We were supposed to go into camp some three weeks ago but without money, we could not. These are athletes who do not even have running shoes, uniforms, cycling shorts and back packs, among other requirements.
“We are therefore hunting for well-wishers to come to our rescue so that we prepare well. It would also be inhuman to take our athletes to Egypt without allowances,” Suwedi lamented.
She said they had forwarded a request for funding to Malawi National Council of Sports but the parastatal was yet to respond.
Sports Council acting Executive Secretary, Henry Mereka, said he was aware about the trip and had advised Som to request for clearance from the government.
“Processes for their clearance are underway, but I do not remember seeing a request for funding. I may have to ask around,” Mereka said.
Phiri competed at the Special Olympics World Games in Abhu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where she won silver in March last year in the 100 metres category.
She also won two gold medals in 2015 in the 100 and 200 metres categories at the global event when it took place in Los Angeles, United States. Lekaleka also won gold at the same competition.
Namaona also has two gold medals in 50 and 100 metres categories which she won in the United States.
Phyles and Wema are yet to compete on an international stage.