Paralympics team to receive heroes’ welcomeBy: HELGE SCHUTZ
THE Namibian government is organising a big welcoming reception for Namibia’s Paralympics team when they arrive back in Windhoek tomorrow afternoon.
Johanna Benson made history when she won Namibia’s first-ever gold medal at the Paralympic Games on September 6 in the Women’s T37 200m final. Since then she has become an overnight sensation amongst Namibians from all walks of life and a big turnout can be expected when the Namibian team arrives back at 15h20 at the Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Roger Kambatuku of the Namibian Directorate of Sport said it was a great achievement and that they were going all out to ensure a heroes’ welcome for the Namibian team.
“We are planning a big welcoming home reception for the team. This is a great achievement by Johanna and we want to honour our heroes,” he said.
According to Kambatuku, there will be a press conference at the airport where the Minister of Sport, Kazenambo Kazenambo, and his deputy, Pohamba Shifeta, will deliver welcoming addresses.
Kambatuku said they were also trying to involve several other sport codes, such as rugby, soccer and basketball to have prominent personalities at the airport to welcome the team back.
After travelling to Windhoek, Team Namibia will embark on an open bus tour through the streets of Windhoek to the UN Plaza in Katutura, where there will once again be several speeches.
“I’m elated and over the moon with Johanna’s gold medal. I was closely involved with the team’s preparations before they left for London, so for me it’s also a special feeling and I am very happy for them,” he said. Meanwhile, Namibia’s visually impaired athlete Ananias Shikongo failed to make the final of the T11 Men’s 100m when he came third in his heat on Saturday.
Shikongo ran a personal best time of 11,49 seconds, but it was not fast enough to make the top four final.
On Thursday, Shikongo also fell out of the 200m heats when he came second in Heat 3 in a time of 23,02. It was another personal best time, but he once again failed to reach the final.
Martin Aloysius failed to compete in the Men’s T12 100m and 200m heats after withdrawing due to a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Women’s Action for Development, Veronica de Klerk issued a statement congratulating Benson on her achievement.
Unassumingly, yet with the determination of steel, Johanna has overnight changed her world and captivated the admiration of our nation. Her commendable example shouts out loud and clear what women can do if just given a little opportunity – and it is for the entire Namibian nation to realize that we have been ignoring all along the GOLD which women can produce!,” the statement read.
“Johanna’s display of courage, perseverance and determination should be a beacon of motivation for all women in Namibia – not only on the sport field, but in all areas in which they are involved – and this all starts with unwavering faith in their own abilities,” she added.