Ishitile sparkles in Paris

Lahja Ishitile and her guide Sem Shimanda display their silver medals. Photo: contributed

Lahja Ishitile has been Namibia’s star performer at the World Para Athletics Championships currently underway in Paris, winning a medal and breaking a few records along the way.

On Tuesday evening, Ishitile and her guide Sem Shimanda came second in the women’s T11 400m final, with Thalitha Simplicio of Brazil winning gold in 56,60 seconds, while Ishitile won the siver medal in a new African record time of 57,18 seconds. 

Her medal in the 400m completed a hot streak during which she broke the African record three times. 

In her first round heat on Sunday she broke her African record of 58,97 after winning her heat in 58,46 seconds, while she once again broke the record the following day when she came second in her semifinal with a time of 58,38. 

In the final on Tuesday she reached greater heights when she broke the record for the third time, this time by taking more than a second off the previous mark.

Ishitile also set a new African record in the T11 100m when she won her first round heat in a time of 12,38 seconds on Wednesday. That put her through to the semifinals where she narrowly missed out on the final after coming second in her heat in 12,50 seconds. 

A total of nine Namibian athletes and five guides are competing at the championships among more than 1 300 athletes from 107 nations, who are competing for 168 medals while also trying to qualify for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

In the men’s 400m T11 Ananias Shikongo and Chris Kinda both won their first round heats to progress to thesemifinals, with Shikongo winning heat one in 52,82 seconds, while Kinda won heat 3 in 52,44 seconds. 

They however failed to reach the final after Shikongo and his guide Even Tjiviju finished third in their semifinal heat in 52,02 seconds, while Kinda and hisguide Rivaldo Goagoseb came fourth in their semifinal heat in 52,33.

Johannes Nambala reached the final of the men’s 100m T13 event after coming fourth in his heat in a time of 11,20 seconds. 

In the final he managed to improve on that with a season’s best time of 11,05 seconds but he could only finish sixth in a fast race that saw the first five finishers all dipping under 11,00 seconds. 

Salum Kashafali of Norway won the gold medal in a new championship record of 10,45 seconds, which was close to his world record of 10,37 that he set in Oslo last month. Fabricio Barros of Brazil won silver in 10,82 seconds, while Jakkarin Dammunee of Thailand won the bronze medal in a new Asian record of 10,86.

The championships continue till Monday, 17 July, while Namibia’s other competing para-athletes are Lahja Ipinge and her guide Filippus Paulus (women’s T12), Immanuel Bernardo and his guide Hatago Murere (men’s T11), Denzel Namene (men’s T44), Bradley Murere (men’s T46) and Petrus Karuli (men’s T37). 

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