Namibia: Mboma Makes History in Tokyo

Mboma makes history in Tokyo

Sport - Athletics | 2021-08-04

by Helge Schütz

CHRISTINE Mboma became the first Namibian female athlete to win a medal at the Olympic Games when she finished second in the women's 200m final at the Tokyo Olympic Games yesterday.

After another brilliant acceleration down the home straight, Mboma won the silver medal in a new Namibian and under 20 world record time of 21,81 seconds, finishing just behind Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica who won her second gold medal in 21,53 seconds, while Gabby Thomas of the United States won bronze in 21,87 seconds.

It was a brilliant day for Namibian athletics as Namibia's other participant in the 200m final, Beatrice Masilingi finished sixth in a new personal best time of 22,28 seconds.

It was the first time in 25 years that Namibia had won a medal at the Olympic Games since Frank Fredericks won two silver medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Running in Lane 5, Mboma was once again slow out of the blocks and was soon overtaken by Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in Lane 4 on her inside.

Masilingi, by contrast, got off to a fast start and as they approached the bend into the home straight, Thompson-Herah had taken the lead with Fraser-Pryce, Marie Josee Ta-Lou of the Ivory Coast and Masilingi just behind.

Going into the home straight Mboma was lying sixth and well behind, but she started her customary late charge to overtake Ta-Loo and Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland. With a brilliant late surge she hauled in Fraser-Pryce and Thomas to finish second behind Thompson-Herah who added a second gold medal after winning the 100m on Saturday.

It was an awesome performance by the Namibians who responded in brilliant style after being excluded from their favourite 400m event due to World Athletics' rules that prohibit female athletes with 'unnaturally high testosterone levels' to participate.

Having set the world's first and third best 400m times this year they would have been definite medal contenders, but despite that disappointment, they in stead focussed on the 200m where they displayed their dazzling talents to a global audience.

They were hardly amongst the favourites for the 200m, with the 34th and 35th fastest times in the world this year leading up to the Games, but they displayed nerves of steel and golden performances as the heats wore on.

In the first round heats on Monday, they both set personal best times to qualify for the semifinals, while Mboma already made her intentions clear when she beat Thomas, one of the favourites for the event.

In the semifinals they once again improved their personal best times, with Mboma setting a new u20 world record of 21,97 as well, but then kept their best performances for last in the final.

Mboma's time of 21,81 is not that far off Florence Griffith Joyner's 33-year-old world record of 21,34, and at the age of 18, what more superlatives can we expect from Namibia's young superstars?

The 400m heats, meanwhile, got underway yesterday with Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, Allyson Felix of the United States and Candice McLeod and Stephenie McPherson of Jamaica amongst the first round winners, but in the absence of Mboma and Masilingi, the event has already lost a lot of its allure.

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