Olympic silver goes to Shinyungwe

The 18-year-old became the first female athlete – and only the second Namibian –to win a medal for the country at the Olympic Games when she ran a new under-20 world record of 21.81 seconds in the women's 200m final in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

04 August 2021 | Sports

Limba Mupetami







WINDHOEK

Namibia’s Christine Mboma blasted from behind to claim silver in the 200m final in Tokyo, with the gold medal bagged by Jamaica’s Ellaine Thompson-Herah in a time of 21.53 seconds, and bronze going to America’s Gabrielle Thomas in 21.87.

Mboma, who hails from Shinyungwe village, some 130 km east of Rundu, said she feels great.

“I was here for the experience and I didn't expect to win a medal. I believe I can still do better,” the youngster said.

Despite her monumental finish, the race wasn’t an easy one, with the likes of Olympic elites Thompson-Herah and Shelley-Ann Fraser Pryce (fifth in 21.94 seconds) - who Mboma passed at superb speed seconds before the finish line - making up part of the line-up.

Visibly nervous from the onset, Mboma ran the best race of her life, coming alive and growing confident as she ran. The young Namibian stamped her name in history books for Namibia as well as the rest of the African continent with her performance.

Raising above adversity

Mboma’s journey to the Games has been a tough one. She was abandoned by her father while she was still a baby and tragically lost her mother when she was just 13. The sprinter’s painful past was dominated by poverty before she fell in love with athletics.

When she started making a name for herself, the shy and soft-spoken Mboma not only had to step up against elite athletes twice her age, but also against the complex cruelty of global sport, which saw World Athletics pulling her and fellow sprinter Beatrice Masilingi out of the 400m - their specialty - due to what they termed an ‘unfair’ advantage caused by their ‘high’ testosterone levels.

Mboma and Masilingi, who took the sixth spot in a time of 22.28 seconds – her personal best, had to re-adjust her preparation for the Games just weeks before the sporting spectacular kicked off.

Along with their coach Henk Botha and with help from former sprinter Frankie Fredericks, the athletes readied for the 200m - at that time not realising that their efforts would land one of them a podium finish.

Joyful nation

From newspaper vendors and shop assistants to politicians and the president, support and congratulatory messages started streaming in for the sprinter just moments after her victory.

“I wish to congratulate Christine for her brilliant achievement during the 200m finals at the Tokyo Olympics. As a country, we are extremely proud. An outstanding ambassador of our country, you have flown the Namibian flag very high,” President Hage Geingob said.

His wife, First Lady Monica Geingos, wrote: “We believe her. Christine’s silver medal at the Olympics feels like gold to us. Mboma and Masilingi raced against misogynoir and won. Thank you, Christine, Beatrice and Coach Henk, for reminding us that greatness never shrinks; it grows, it gets better”.

Justice minister Yvonne Dausab also added her two cents, tweeting: “Mboma beats Shelley-Ann - that's huge”.

“Namibia has made history with a girl child performing at this level. Well done, Christine and Beatrice.”

The athletes now look to the World Under-18 Athletic Championships slated for 17 August in Kenya for another top medal finish.

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