In the past year Namibia experienced some fine moments in the sports fraternity where local sports personalities rose to the occasion and created memorable moments while participating in international competitions.
In this last edition of 2016 of The Villager newspaper we have decided to highlight some of the finest and most memorable moments and performances of Namibian athletes who performed exceptionally.
Namibian boxing has been moving from strength to strength. The third day of December marked a significant day in the Namibian boxing history of the country, getting three world titles in one night when Julius “Blue Machine” Indongo defeated Eduard Troyanovsky of Russia within a minute to win two world titles, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) in the light-welterweight division. Indongo also successful defended his WBO super lightweight title in October this year against Zolani Marali of South Africa. On the same night Bethuel “Tyson” Uushona claimed the World Boxing Federation (WBF) against Rafal Jackiewicz from Poland.
This brought the number of Namibians to have won world titles to five in the 26-years after independence with Harry Simon being the first, followed by Paulus Mosses and Paulus Ambunda.
The national under U-17 football team, the Baby Warriors, won the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) tournament for the first time in the country’s history, after they defeated much highly rated Amajimbos of South Africa. What makes it more specially is that they lost to the same team 4-0 in the pool stages of the same tournament. Namibia has no academies with proper infrastructure to give young players good exposure unlike their South African counterparts, but they managed to win against all odds.
Another reason for Namibia to celebrate was when Ananias Shikongo won gold and two bronzes with his friend Johannes Nambala scooping two silvers at the Rio Paralympic games in Brazil. According to their coach Michael Hamukwaya Namibia does not have facilities that can cater for disabled athletes and they are forced by circumstances to train at the same venues as their able-bodied counterparts. “It is a big a challenge training athletes with disability. You need to spend enough time with them and they need to build a great understanding with their guides in order to know each other’s movements. It can cause serious injuries to the athlete if they are not well prepared,” said Hamukwaya. Despite these challenges, these two Namibian heroes held their heads up high to put their names in the history book and Namibia on the world map.
The national Under-19 cricket team managed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup when they finished 7th at the 2016 World Cup in Bangladesh. This was Namibia 8th appearance at the World Cup, with their best performance coming this year when they defeated defending champions South Africa only to lose their last game to India in the quarter finals. However, the feat was enough to make them automatically qualify for the next World Cup to be held in New Zealand 2018.
The national senior rugby team, the Welwitchias, won the Africa Cup of Nations in August when they defeated Zimbabwe in the final for the second time in row. Namibian rugby has been doing well in Africa, being ranked second after South Africa in the continent and also qualifying for the World Cup six times which leave them ranked 19 in the world, and they will embark on the journey of qualifying for 2019 World Cup in Japan.