Golden girl returns

Namibia's 2012 Paralympic gold and silver medallist, Johanna Benson, is set to make a return to competitive athletics in November at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai.

23 October 2019 | Sports

Namibia's golden girl Johanna Benson, who last ran competitively in March last year in South Africa at the Nedbank National Championships, is set to return to track for the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai that will take place from 7 to 15 November.

The competition will serve as qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games and Benson has been training five days a week and sometimes on Saturdays in Walvis Bay with other para-athletes. Sixteen athletes are in the team to compete in Dubai.

A current training camp at Swakopmund will add the final touches before the competition in Dubai.

“I'm very excited; I love the opportunity to represent my country and I am looking forward to my third world championship.

“I have really enjoyed the camp and training within the team environment. There are no challenges and I'm really happy with the preparations,” added the 29-year-old Benson.

She said her goal is to improve her times in her races. Classified as a T37 competitor for athletes with cerebral palsy, Benson's first major international event was in 2010, when she represented Namibia at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where she claimed bronze.

A year later in New Zealand she was unable to find the same form and failed to qualify for the finals in both the 100m and 200m events.

However, at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, she surprised her competitors with awesome performances.

She was Namibia's only female athlete and won gold medal in the women's 200m race and silver in the 100m event.

Benson's achievements in London made her the first athlete from Namibia to win a Paralympic gold medal, and the first competitor to win gold across either Olympic or Paralympic Games.

At the 2013 world championships in Lyon she won two bronze medals, in the 100m and 200m races.

In 2013 she was nominated for the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

A year later she competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Although her sprint events were no longer part of the programme, the T37/38 long jump was introduced.

In this event Benson managed to win a bronze medal.

In the build-up towards the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Benson took part in two further international competitions. At the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, she won gold in the 100m sprint.

She also collected a third world championship medal by winning a bronze at the 2015 edition in Doha in the 200m.

Others competing in Dubai together with Benson are guides Even Tjiviju, Sydney Kamuaruuma and Sam Shimada, athletes Ananias Shikongo (T11), Johannes Nambala (T13), Denzel Namene (T44), Christoph Marungu (T12), Reginald Benade (F35/36), Sylvia Shivolo (shot put), wheelchair athlete Roadly Gowaseb, Bradley Murere (T46), Karuli Petrus Kasanga (T37), Alfred Bernardo, (T11), Lahja Ishitile and Eino Mushila.

LIMBA MUPETAMI

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