Hundreds of Namibians from all walks of life thronged the Hosea Kutako International Airport to accord the country’s Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma and fellow women’s 200m finalist Beatrice Masilingi as well as their coach Henk Botha a heroes’ welcome, following Team Namibia’s return from the Tokyo Olympics.
The trio and the rest of Namibia’s representatives at this year’s Tokyo Olympics all touched down at the Hosea Kutako International Airport at around 12h45 yesterday and arrived to jubilant celebrations and euphoria from hordes of expecting Namibians.
Mboma clinched a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics with a personal best time of 21.81 in the 200m final. Masilingi ended sixth with a commanding 22.28 seconds, which is also her career personal best.
Sport minister Agnes Tjongarero and various government officials were all on the ground to receive the team.
As they emerged, Mboma, Masilingi and Botha were vociferously greeted by ecstatic crowds of traditional dancing groups and members of the public, who were all waving Namibian flags and placards displaying congratulatory messages.
From the airport, the sizeable convoy took the celebrations to the streets of Windhoek, where additional enthusiastic multitudes of Namibians lined up on the sidewalks of the capital’s Independence Avenue waiting to welcome and congratulate the country’s ‘Golden girls’ for their inspiring exploits in Japan.
They were immediately lifted on open-roof fire trucks to enable them to interact with the crowds. The celebrations winded through the central business district all the way into Katutura, where more joyous crowds awaited, chanting “Mboma, Mboma, Mboma!”
Mboma became the youngest woman to win an individual flat sprint medal in 49 years at the Tokyo Olympics.
The next stop was the Soweto Market, where they were received by large crowds and hooting cars – all showing their profound appreciation to the trio for bringing an end to the country’s 25-year medal drought at the Olympics.
The final lap of the celebrations headed to the headquarters of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), where an official press conference was held to give the two athletes and coach Botha an opportunity to say a word or two to the media.
At the conference, Tjongerero, on behalf of the Namibian government, gifted the three with diplomatic passports as a token of appreciation.
Tjongerero said she hoped the issuing of diplomatic passports will help ease their travelling burdens. A special dinner for all members of Team Namibia was also organised at State House by President Hage Geingob yesterday evening.