With Namibia’s resounding success at the recent Tokyo Olympics now a well-documented feat and one for the history books, the country’s attention will today turn to the Paralympic Games, which kicks off with the opening ceremony.
Namibia made her debut at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona, but then missed out on the 1996 and 2000 editions, only making a return at the 2004 games in Athens, Greece. Namibia went on to compete at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 games.
The country’s first medal at the games came at the 2008 games in Beijing, China, where Reginald Benade won bronze in discus. Namibia then went on to improve her medal tally at the next edition in London in 2012 when Johanna Benson scooped the country’s first gold medal in the women’s T37 200m and silver in the women’s T37 100m.
At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Namibia’s medal count at the games shot up when sprinter Ananias Shikongo claimed three medals – gold in the men’s T11 200m, a bronze in the T11 100m and another bronze in the T11 400m. Sprinter Johannes Nambala added to the country’s tally in Rio with two silver medals in the men’s T13 400m and T13 100m – bringing home five medals in total.
Going into this year’s Tokyo Paralympics, Team Namibia’s only three representatives at the coming games Nambala, Shikongo and Lahja Ishitile will all be vying to build on the Rio success and hopefully bag more medals.
Ishitile will be first to kick off the country’s campaign, starting with the women’s F11 long jump and then later the T11 400m heats – both on Friday, 27 August. She will return to action on Thursday, 2 September, in the T11 100m heats. Shikongo will be in action this coming Saturday in the men’s T11 400m heats before taking to the tracks on Wednesday, 1 September, in the T11 100m heats.
Nambala will be in action this Sunday in the men’s T13 100m heats and then again on Wednesday, 1 September, in the T13 400m heats.
The T11 category is for athletes with visual impairment. They are entirely without sight and unable to perceive light – and have no ability to see the shape of a hand at any distance. T11 athletes commonly run with guides.
Athletes with a T13/F13 sport class have the least severe vision impairment and, at times, have the highest visual acuity and/or a visual field of less than 40 degrees diameter.