//Gowaseb’s snub shocks Olympics Namibia

By Michael Uugwanga

THERE is a bit of confusion regarding the exclusion of 2019 Special Olympics gold medal winner Ruben //Gowaseb at the just held Namibia Annual Sports Awards (NASA) at Ondangwa over the past weekend, which shocked the Special Olympics Namibia (SON).

The athletes that were nominated in the category of Sportsman of the Year were Ananias Shikongo, Roodly Gowaseb and Johannes Nambala.

//Gowaseb is the first Namibian to win two successive gold medals at the Special Olympic Games when he won a gold medal at the Special Olympics World Summer Game in the men’s half marathon in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March, having also won the same medal at the 2015 Special Olympic World Summer Games in Los Angeles, U.S.A.

The Special Olympics Games are an international sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities, organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)-recognised Special Olympics Organisation.

In 2015, //Gowaseb won the Sportsman of the Year with Disability award, and went on to share the Achiever of the Year award with boxer Paulus ‘Rock’ Ambunda, who at the time had won the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) Super-Bantamweight World Title.

SON board member Julien Garises claimed that they did submit the name of //Gowaseb for the category Sportsman of the Year with Disability, despite NASA and the panel of judges strongly denying the claim.

Confidente Sport is in possession of a nomination letter of //Gowaseb from SON to the Namibia National Paralympic Committee (NPC), although all the federations/associations were required to nominate their candidates through an application form on NASA’s website of which SON failed to do so.

The 2019 Sportsman of the Year with Disability went to Johannes Nambala.

“I am also shocked that //Gowaseb was not nominated for the award. We (SON) did submit his name after we were asked by the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) to submit his name. I think it is just a political thing that is happening in our sport.

“Politics is killing our athletes seriously. Maybe it will be good if you can ask the panel of judges what happened. First, when I saw the name Gowaseb I thought it was him (Ruben //Gowaseb) but not,” Garises said.

//Gowaseb in turn criticised the organisers of NASA, saying they are discouraging him from representing Namibia, despite continuously putting the country on the world map.

//Gowaseb was also not given an official welcoming after winning the gold medal in Abu Dhabi from the directorate of sport within the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service or the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) that broke the news on their website after //Gowaseb won the half-marathon.

“I am a two-time gold medallist at the Special Olympics and yet I am not being taken seriously. I work so hard just to put the country on the map. This is just unfair for me not to be nominated. It is not about winning the award but at least to be nominated.

“This is really discouraging me from running. I am shocked that I was not nominated. Every day I am at training in order to win medals for my country. I will continue to win medals for my beloved country,” //Gowaseb told Confidente this week.

Meanwhile, Memory Kahlari, para administrator at NNPC said SON handed in the list of their nominees a day after the nomination date had elapsed. Kahlari also said that SON was supposed to send the name of the nominated candidate directly to the Sport Commission’s NASA website.

“They sent through the name of Ruben on 19 September when the due date for submission already passed. They were supposed to send the name of the candidate direct to the Sport Commission. I am even the one that asked them to submit the names of their candidates because I was surprised that they did not do so. I will never help them again if that is the case,” said Kahlari.

Chairperson of NASA’s panel of judges Lesley Tjiueza said the SON federation should have put in a complaint in such cases. “The federation could have written a letter of complaint to the Sport Commission, who will then write a letter to us for explanations. They should write a letter of complaint within 48 hours after the release of the nominees,” said Tjiueza.

NSC marketing and public relation officer Chalo Chainda strongly refuted Garises and //Gowaseb’s claims, saying SON did not submit the name of the athletes and also alleged that //Gowaseb came to the Commission, threatening one of the employees there.

“The name of //Gowaseb was not submitted by his federation. I have the list of all the names of the nominees. The names I have are Ananias Shikongo, Roodly Gowaseb and Johannes Nambala. Or is he Roodly Gowaseb?

“This is why we need to educate the federations because we (NSC) are not judges. We want to be fair. I remember //Gowaseb coming to our offices and wanted to beat up one of our employee before he went into the office of [the NSC chief administrator] Freddy Mwiya.”