Govt rewards Benson for returning goldBy: SHEEFENI NIKODEMUS
BABY Benson, the mother of Paralympic Games silver and gold medallist Johanna Benson, feels her daughter was sufficiently rewarded after President Hifikepunye Pohamba yesterday handed the athlete a diplomatic passport and pledged that the country’s standout Paralympian would be given a house of her choice at Walvis Bay.
Johanna will also receive N$100 000 for winning the Women’s T37 200m gold and N$70 000 for the 100m silver in her category.
Dubbed the ‘Golden Girl’, she is the only Namibian athlete to have medalled at the just ended London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“I’m happy for what the people have done for my daughter. I feel she is a hero for what she has done. She deserves it,” Baby told The Namibian.
A relaxed Johanna said: “I feel very happy. I knew such a thing will happen if I perform well.”
Pohamba suggested that it would be fitting if the athlete had a street named after her in her hometown.
Johanna’s achievement was “exceptional and brought smiles to the faces of many Namibians”, he said.
“In this light, the government has decided to buy a house for Johanna Benson in Walvis Bay and to provide her with a diplomatic passport as recognition for her contribution to Namibia,” said the Head of State.
“She has set a splendid example that other young Namibians should follow. This was not because the races in which she participated were easy, but because she worked hard, prepared thoroughly and was guided by the principle of discipline and commitment,” Pohamba added.
“We admire her because she worked hard against all odds, with determination and a strong will to realise her dreams.”
Baby Benson said she has advised her daughter not to let fame and fortune interfere with her career.
“I told her to just keep giving everything she has and not to give up. Many people look up to her and she can still achieve many things,” she said.