MBWATA – “I feel like flying, I can’t contain the joy I feel.” These were the words of Josephine Mutenya Muyevhu, grandmother to Namibian hero Christine Mboma who on Tuesday made history by becoming the country’s first ever female Olympic medallist.
“My granddaughter has brought me joy that I can’t contain, my eyes are just full of tears of joy,” said the 67-year-old Muyevhu as she revels in Mboma’s 200m final exploits, which saw her finishing second with a personal best time of 21.81. Mboma finished behind Jamaica’s defending Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, who won the gold medal in a time of 21.53 seconds, while Gabby Thomas of the US rounded off the podium in third place after running 21.87 seconds.
New Era visited the proud family at their Mbwata village, nestled in the Kavango East, yesterday. “We watched her on TV and I was full of tears, it was so overwhelming,” said a family elder Tobias Kangumbe. “I’m tongue tied, I felt extremely happy when I watched her run on TV, I felt like I should just pick her up. I asked myself so these Ngongo nuts we used to eat never ruined you but gave you vitamins to run?
I’m so happy and my wish is that she continues and may she go forward with her athletics career.” Kangumbe said the family is extremely grateful for her win. “We are hearing how people are praising her and we are proud of her, personally, I really can’t contain it,” Kangumbe noted.
George Mukoya, who is Mboma’s elder cousin also said he was elated for his cousin’s achievement. “I have been watching videos posted on social media about her performances abroad, the excitement kept me up all night and to tell you the truth we never saw it coming but as a family, we are grateful and wish her the best in her career,” he said.
“Our village Mbwata is the least talked about and people never say good things about our village but she has changed all that. People will now celebrate Mbwata. I can’t wait to see her so I push her around the yard in a wheelbarrow.”
New Era also visited Mboma’s former school Shinyungwe Combined School some four kilometres west of her home village. Mboma attended Shinyungwe before relocating to Grootfontein. Acting principal Manfred Muronga said when Mboma reached grade 9, that is when they discovered her talent during sports activities.
“We saw that she had potential to take her to the next level. She was participating in all the field items and was winning all of them, be it long distance, 100 metres or whatever field item, she was asked to do,” said the acting principal who described Mboma as a humble learner who was disciplined. “Whilst here, we never experienced any trouble with her, as her previous school we are happy for her achievement and we use her as an example for other learners and whenever she comes by, we introduce her to other learners and tell them her track record just to inspire them,” Muronga added.
Kavango East chairperson of Namibia Schools Sport Union (NSSU) Paulus Mutangara, who supported both Mboma and her teammate Beatrice Masilingi’s development, also shared his happiness yesterday. “In 2017 and 2018 she came to run at regional level in Rundu but didn’t perform well but in 2019, that is when she started to perform wonders at the regional level and she did the same at national level in Windhoek and from there she started going places,” Mutangara said.
“In May 2019, 16-year-old Mboma won the 800 and 1500 metres events at the school›s Cossasa Games in Manzini, Eswatini, after that event, Otjozondjupa NSSU chairperson Henk Botha came to Rundu to take Masilingi who was on demand on a scholarship to his school in Grootfontein so that he can mentor her but along with the Kavango East sports officer Erastus Someno we forced him to take Mboma as well and the rest is history.”
Not only did Mboma’s blistering winning time of 21.81 shatter the World U/20 record set and broken twice by herself earlier in the semifinals, she also ended a 25-year medal drought at the games. Before her silver medal win this week, Namibia’s last podium finish was in the form of legendary sprinting ace Frank Fredericks.
Also, Mboma made further history by becoming the youngest woman to win an individual flat sprint medal in 49 years, while the Tokyo Olympics winning time also became a new national record for women’s 200m and a new African record for women’s 200m.