Disappointment, pity, simply unfortunate and regretful are some of the words Paralympics coach Michael Hamukwaya could find to describe the disqualification of sprinter Ananias Shikongo and his guide Even Tjiviju during yesterday’s men’s T11 100m final at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
Shikongo and Tjiviju had initially finished third and were set to collect the bronze medal, but their outstanding performance was soon whitewashed by an announcement that they had been disqualified from the race because Tjiviju released the tether before Shikongo had fully crossed the finish line.
According to rule 7.9.3 of World Para Athletics Rules and Regulations, “The athlete and his accompanying guide-runner shall retain the tether attachment from the start of the race until the end of the race. No release shall be allowed until after the athlete and his accompanying guide-runner have both reached the vertical plane of the nearer edge of the finish line and finished the race, except during the process of an interchange of guide-runners”.
A tether is a short rope used between the runner and the guide.
“What a shame! Our guide-runner released the athlete before the finish line. That must not happen. They ran a time of 10.98 seconds, which was going to be a new African record, but that has now all been scrapped because of the disqualification. No record, no time, because of disqualification,” said a disappointed Hamukwaya, who is also the secretary general of the Namibia Paralympics Committee.
Nambala scoops bronze
But there was, however, something worthy to celebrate for Team Namibia as sprinter Johannes Nambala claimed the country’s second medal at the Tokyo Paralympics yesterday. He sprinted to bronze in the men’s T13 400m in a time of 48.76 seconds. Shikongo claimed Namibia’s first medal at the games when he won silver in the T11 400m on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Nambala, who was born with less than 60% vision, finished behind Morocco’s Mohamed Amguoun, who won silver, and Algeria’s Skander Djamil, who claimed gold in a world record time of 46.70 seconds.
Nambala has won a medal at every world championship since 2013, including gold at the most recent edition in Dubai in 2019, and was hoping to improve on his double Paralympic silver medals from Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
“I came here as the world 400m champion and I could not defend my title, but I am very proud of getting the bronze. It was a hard race. I started very strongly, but I am very proud of myself for this. I feel on top of the world. I did not come here to participate; I came here to compete. There are young guys coming through now who are very strong. But that just inspires me and motivates me to train more for 2024 [Paris Paralympic Games],” he told Supersport after the race.
Meanwhile, Lahja Ishitile and her guide Sydney Kamuaruuma failed to make it past the heats of the women’s T11 200m race when they ended third.