Namibia's Tokyo Paralympics silver medallists Ananias Shikongo, who won silver in the men’s T11 400m, and Johannes Nambala, who scooped bronze the men’s T13 400m, were yesterday accorded a well-deserved rousing welcome at the Hosea Kutako International Airport following their return home from Tokyo, Japan.
The two sprinters, who were the only two athletes that won medals for Namibia in Tokyo, and the rest of the members of Team Namibia at the Tokyo games were received by a sizable joyous crowd of Namibians, who congregated at the airport to show their appreciation and delight.
Sports minister Agnes Tjongarero, sprint legend Frank Fredericks and many other government officials and various captains of industry all led the welcoming celebrations, which were beautifully coloured by sparkling traditional dances and great symphonies from the police brass band.
Sending a word of appreciation to the crowds that came to receive them, a grateful Nambala started off by thanking all the various sponsors and good Samaritans that made their Tokyo trip a reality, saying the medals won in Tokyo are their word of thanks to all Namibians.
“Before our departure for Japan, we made a promise that we were going to come back with medals – and that is what we did. At the previous Paralympic Games in Brazil in 2016, we came back with medals, and it was only going to make sense for us to come back with medals again from this year’s games. I believe this won't end here, we have the Commonwealth Games coming up, and I trust we will bring more medals home from those events as well,” said Nambala.
Namibia’s first-ever Olympic medallist Fredericks, who could not hide his joy, welcomed the athletes with a special announcement that his Frank Fredericks Foundation would be sponsoring an amount of N$100 000, which will be shared between the medal winners and their guides.
Fredericks used the occasion to reiterate his call for more support towards local athletes, saying only through continuous financial and technical support can the country continue winning medals at major international events.
“This is an inspiration to all of us, looking at what these athletes have achieved, despite the difficult conditions they go through when preparing for such events. I plead that more support should be given to these athletes to help them with their preparations and forth. Someone training for a medal, receiving N$200 00 or so is not a huge amount; it requires lots of work to be done, and we are proud of these achievements,” he said.
The celebrations continued with a street parade across the city and wounded up with a late evening gala dinner at State House, organised by President Hage Geingob.
Caption: Para jpg – Heroes welcome… Namibia's Tokyo Paralympics silver medallists Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala yesterday received a heroes’ welcome at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, following their return home from Tokyo, Japan.
Photo: Emmency Nuukala.