Shikongo, won’t defend title in Tokyo

By Michael Uugwanga

NAMIBIA’S Paralympic gold medallist winner Ananias Shikongo has revealed that he will not defend his favourite 200m T11 crown at next year’s Paralympics Games in Japan, following the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s decision to scrap the 200m T11 race.

Shikongo won the 200m T11 heat at the Summer Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil to become the second Namibian Paralympic athlete to win a gold medal at the Paralympics after female sprinter Johanna Benson won the women’s 200m T37 race at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London.

Fresh from international events, where he competed in France, Belgium, Holland and Dubai, Shikongo told Confidente Sport that he was very disappointed that he will not be defending his favourite heat race.

If Shikongo is to win another gold medal for the country he will have to beat his record in the 100m T11 and 400m T11 heats, in which he managed to bag two bronze medals in Rio on top of the gold medal.

“I am very disappointed that I will not be defending my title in Tokyo next year because the 200m T11 is my favourite heat. This means that I will have to win a gold medal in the 100m T11 and 400m T11. I will try my level best to win gold for the country. It is not that I will not make effort to win gold medals in the two heats but I will try my level best. I do not know why the 200m T11 was taken off,” a disappointed Shikongo said.

Shikongo said he had mixed performances this year and wants to do better next year. To make matters worse, he was disqualified in Dubai last month in the 100m T11.

“This year was very tough for me, although I managed to achieve my personal best in France when I clocked 11.71 seconds in the 100m T11, 43.51 seconds in the 400m T11 in Belgium and 11.73 seconds in Holland at the Grand Prix.

“One of the problems for those mixed results was because we arrived late for a training camp in Holland. I was disqualified after leaving the rope earlier. I was so disappointed because I wanted to end the year with a bang. I am ranked sixth in the world and only the top five will automatic qualify to the Games. Had I won or did well in the 100m at the world championship in Dubai I would have been on the safe side of qualification.”

Shikongo is being trained by well-known coach Letu Hamhola, whom he described as one of the best coaches in the world. At 33, Shikongo still feels he is fast enough to win a medal at the Tokyo Games and has urged his fans to continue supporting him.

“My target is to win a medal next year. Yes, I am still having the legs to win. My coach is the best and I also want to thank my fans [and ask them] to continue supporting me and other athletes so that we win more medals for the country.

“We are still waiting on whether the All-Africa Games will be taking place in January next year despite Morocco deciding not to host the event. We cannot stop relaxing because anytime we could get news about the new host nation of the All-Africa Games.”