Namibian Paralympians continued to impress at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games with Ananias Shikongo making history by winning gold in the T11 200m and Johannes Nambala winning silver in the T12 400m event in Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil, yesterday. Shikongo with his trusted guide Even Tjiviju started the race strongly, brushing off intimidation from host Brazilian Daniel Silva and Felipe Gomes, who are equally celebrated by the home crowd, to scoop Namibia’s first Paralympic gold medal in a time of 22.44 seconds, setting a new Paralympic record in the event. The last time Namibia’s anthem was sung at the summer games was at the 2012 Summer Paralympics where Johanna Benson won gold in the women’s 100m in London. In the semi-final heats, Shikongo set the fastest time of 22.48 seconds, which also equaled the Paralympic Games record and looked well set to win a second medal. Shikongo adds the gold medal to the bronze he won in the men’s T11 100m.
Nambala, who was the gold favourite in the T12 400m also nearly took gold – coming just 0.06s behind Mohamed Amguoun of Morocco who surpassed his previous world record from 47.83 to 47.15 seconds. The Namibian brilliant runner is no new comer to the centrestage. He won Namibia’s first medal at the IPC Athletics World Championship in Doha last year. Nambala won the T13 200m event in a 21.74 time and in the process set a new African record. Before heading to his first Olympic early this month, Nambala was confident that he would indeed represent his country and bag medals. “My chances to win a medal are there and I will try my best to win a medal for my country, especially in the 400m. I have been training so for I will do my best,” Nambala said before leaving. Yesterday’s finals saw Nambala battling hard for another silver podium finish and taking home his second silver medal. He won his first silver in the T13 100m final early this week. Nambala and Shikongo’s victories increase Namibia’s medals tally to four on position 47. Namibia has 1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medals.
By Fikameni Mathias