Namibia’s medal quest in Kobe continues

Johannes Nambala (left) in action. File photo

Chris Kinda, who won a gold medal for Namibia at the Para Athletics World Championships in Kobe, Japan on Monday, is back in action today, while the much-decorated Johannes Nambala and Ananias Shikongo will also lead Namibia’s quest for more medals today. 

The 25-year-old Kinda, and his guide Riwaldo Goagoseb, stormed to victory in the men’s T11 400m final on Monday with a late surge to win the gold medal in 52,35 seconds, and become Namibia’s latest Paralympic star. 

That put him on a par with established stars like Nambala and Shikongo who have won numerous medals at previous world championships, while he will now also be amongst the favourites to medal at the Paris Paralympic Games in three months time. 

The 400m is Kinda’s preferred event, but today he is back in action in the 100m heats, along with compatriots Shikongo and Alfred Bernardo. 

Kinda, who’s best time so far this season is 11,54 seconds, will line up in Heat 3, next to the world champion and strong favourite, Nasos Ghavellas of Greece, who set the world record of 10,82 seconds at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021, while he has a season’s best time of 11,26 seconds this year. 

Shikongo, meanwhile, will also line up in the T11 100m heats, but at the age of 38 time is not on his side and his SB of 11,80 is quite a bit off his PB of 11,11. 

He, however, is Namibia’s most decorated Paralympian, having won four medals at the Paralympic Games (one gold, one silver, two bronze); six medals at the world championships (four silver and two bronze), and five medals at the African Games (four gold and one bronze), and certainly has the big match temperament to produce the goods on the big stage. 

The upcoming 24-year-old Bernardo, meanwhile, has a PB of 11,76 and a SB of 12,62.

Nambala, who is Namibia’s second most decorated Paralympian with three   Paralympic Games medals (two silver and one bronze); nine world championship medals (three gold, four silver, two bronze); and one gold medal at the Africa Games, will compete in the T13 400m heats today, where he should be a strong medal contender. 

The 33-year-old Nambala has a personal best time of 47,21 seconds, but his main opposition is expected to come from Skander Athmani of Algeria who set the world record of 46,70 seconds at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. 

Athmani scooped his first gold medal at the Kobe World Championships Games on Monday when he won the T13 100m in a new championship record time of 10,44 seconds. 

Shuta Kawakami of Japan came second in a new Asian record of 10,70, but Nambala could only finish sixth in a season’s best time of 11,29 seconds.

Another Namibian who will be in action today is Lahja Iipinge, who will line up in the women’s T12 100m heats. Iipinge, who is only 18 years old, was unfortunately disqualified from the women’s T12 400m heats on Monday, when her guide Paulus Filippus crossed the finish line ahead of her. 

Lahja Ishitile, meanwhile, became Namibia’s second medallist at the Kobe Para Athletics World Championships on Sunday when she won the bronze medal in the women’s T11 100m final. Thalita da Silva of Brazil won gold in 57,45 seconds, with Liu Cuiqing of China taking silver in 58,32 and Ishitile bronze in 58,37. 

On Monday Ishitile and her guide Sem Shimanda set an African record of 12,39 seconds in their T11 100m heat, but unfortunately they failed to qualify for the final.

Two other Namibians reached the finals of their events on Monday but failed to finish among the medals.

Competing in the men’s T44 100m event, Denzel Namene qualified for the final with a season’s best time of 12,41 in his heat. In the final he posted exactily the same time but it only placed him seventh, while South Africa’s Mpumelelo Mhlongo won the gold medal in 11,34 seconds. 

Johanna Benson, Namibia’s first Paralympian gold medallist, meanwhile, reached the women’s T37 100m final after coming third in her heat in a time of 14,68 seconds. She, however, missed out on a medal after coming seventh in the final in a season’s best time of 14,56 seconds, while Wen Xiaoyan of China won the gold medal in a new world record time of 12,27.

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