Namibia’s Tokyo Paralympics silver medallists Ananias Shikongo (men’s silver in the T11 400m) and Johannes Nambala Imen’s bronze in T13 400m) this week were accorded a well-deserved rousing welcome at Hosea Kutako International Airport following their return home from Japan.
The two sprinters, the only Namibian athletes to win medals in Tokyo, and the rest of the members of Team Namibia were received by a sizable joyous crowd.
Sports Minister Agnes Tjongarero and other government officials, sprint legend Frank Fredericks, and captains of industry led the welcome party, which were characterised by sparkling traditional dances and music 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 said his Frankie Fredericks Foundation was giving N$100,000 to the two athletes, and their guides, who bagged medals.
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…”
The celebrations continued with a street parade across Windhoek, and wound up with a late evening gala dinner at State House, organised by President Hage Geingob. – New Era