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Friday 19 April 2019
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Para Champs feel left out

‘Dear Mr. President Hage Geingob, when are we going to shake hands and celebrate our #Paralympic gold, silver and bronze medals #ItsTimeNAM,’ read a post written by Ananias Shikongo on his Facebook account yesterday. The sad and discouraging sentiments come after the Rio2016 Paralympic champion Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala have for the past 8 months requested an audience with the State House to present their Rio medals but have not yet been called on.  Shikongo won three medals in the T11, 100 metre (bronze), 200m (gold) and 400m (bronze) categories, while Nambala won two silvers in the T13, 200m and 400m categories. Shikongo was assisted by his two guides Even Tjiviju and Sem Shimanda. The pair were the only athletes to return with medals from the summer competitions.
In March this year, the medal magnets again proved to the world that Namibia is a force to be reckoned with on the international athletics arena. The duo bagged three gold medals at the 9th  FAZAA World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai. Nambala won two gold medals in the 200m men final clocking in at 22,08 seconds ahead of Dragsund Vegard (23,56 sec) of Norway and Mashhadian Mohamma (23,74 sec) of Iran. The champion added another gold in the 400 m men T11/12/13 by clocking 49,01 seconds ahead of Hamoumou, Mohamed Fouad (50,43 sec) of Algeria and Mashhadian Khouzani, Mohamma (51,78 sec) of Iran. Golden boy Shikongo also matched expectations when he collected gold in the 100m in a time of 11,45 seconds. In the 200 meters T11, Shikongo outran Great Britain’s Powell Dan but could not get the medal due to the fact that they were only two during the race.
With two outstanding performances from the duo on two occasions, they still wait to be called to the first house and present their medals. However, newly crowned WBA, IBO and IBF Champion Julius Indongo has already received audience twice from president Hage Geingob.  “We have nothing against Indongo but it sends a bad picture to people leaving with disabilities, especially the young athletes. Does this mean our achievements are not worth the recognition? It is pure discrimination and we are very disappointed,” said an unhappy Shikongo.
Shikongo said the snub has demotivated their guides who get nothing from guiding them to victory. “Our guides are now also no longer motivated because they are not being recognised for the work that they do.” He added: “I know our president is a sport enthusiast so it really puzzles me why we are not being recognised.” An equally disappointed Nambala shared the same sentiments saying he does not understand why things are as such. “It has really been long and it will demotivate younger athletes to even bother participating. We personally have not lost hope but how will the younger guys take it? Who will carry the flag up high at the next Olympics? We are not really happy with the way we are being treated.” said Nambala. Nambala said they have given the line ministry until 20 May to respond to the matter or else seek the audience with a louder voice.
Sport, Youth and National Services Deputy Minister Agnes Tjongarero said her sentiments lie with the athletes but says the ministry has done its part. “In cases when athletes seek the audience of the President, all we do as a ministry is write a letter to the State House, that is the normal procedure.  We have done that twice now and still wait for the response from the State House,” she said. Tjongarero said that the ministry is in a process to respond to the burning matter soonest.  Attempts to get comments from State House press secretary Albertus Aochamub proved futile as his cellphone went unanswered after numerous attempts.




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