Benson makes history with gold medal

Thu, 09/06/2012

Benson gold medalJohanna Benson made history on Wednesday night when she won a gold medal in the Women’s T37 200m final at the Paralympic Games in London.

It was the first time that Namibia had won a gold medal at the Paralympic or the Olympic Games, while she is also the first female athlete to win a medal for Namibia at the Paralympic or Olympic Games.

Benson got off to a fine start and by the 100m bend had moved into second position behind the early leader Oksana Krechunyak of Ukraine.

Benson powered on down the home straight and passed a tiring Krechunyak with about 50m to go to win the gold medal in a new African record and personal best time of 29,26 seconds.

Bethany Woodward of Great Britain won the silver medal in 29,65 and Maria Seifert of Germany won the bronze medal in 29,86 seconds.

An elated Benson ran to her Namibian team mates in the crowd where they hugged and celebrated before she started her victory lap with the Namibian flag draped around her shoulders.

It was Benson’s second medal at the Paralympics, after she had won a silver medal in the Women’s T37 100m on Sunday, September 2.

Memory Kahlari of Team Namibia told Namibia Sport that Benson immediately thanked her coaches and medic for helping her win the gold medal.

“Johanna said she is so happy and proud of her coaches Barbra Fernandez and Michael Hamukwaya, as well as her medic Donatha Gawanas who made sure that she was in good health,” Kahlari said.

“Personally, I am overwhelmed by the record that she has set by becoming the first gold medallist for Namibia and therefor I would like to ask Namibians to take Paralympic sport to heart by contributing so that we can achieve more success in Rio 2016,” she said.

Kahlari added that the Deputy Minister of Sport Pohamba Shifeta, the Deputy Director of Sport Shivute Katamba and the Namibian High Commissioner to Great Britain George Liswaniso, who were all in the crowd, were elated with Benson’s performance.

In a fitting tribute, IOC member Frank Fredericks, who won four medals for Namibia at the Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996, handed Benson her gold medal at the medal ceremony.

The only disappointment for fans back home in Namibia was that the television transmission by the Olympic Broadcasting Services was cut off a few seconds before the start of Benson’s medal ceremony, with the result that Namibian fans could not see the flag raised or the national anthem played at the Olympic Stadium.

Meanwhile, according to Kahlari, Ananias Shikongo was a doubtful starter for the Men’s T12 400m heats on Thursday evening.

“Ananias has pulled a hamstring and our medic is doing her best to see if he can compete,” she said.

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