Namibia's Johannes Nambala targets ‘history’ at Tokyo 2020

Johannes Nambala of Nambia celebrates winning the Men's 400m T13 at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships 2019 Dubai (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Johannes Nambala of Nambia celebrates winning the Men's 400m T13 at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships 2019 Dubai (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

'I hope everything will soon be safe so we can get back to our normal life and continue to chase our dreams’

Namibia’s ace Para athlete Johannes Nambala vows to make history at Tokyo 2020 Games next year.

“I have no doubt Tokyo 2020 Games will be a turning point for me as I will make history in my sports career. I hope to achieve this by raising the bar to a level I have not yet reached,” said Nambala, who has won medals at every World Championships since 2013.

His determination to succeed in Tokyo follows his heart-breaking second in the 100m and 400m T13 at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. His failure to win the gold medal bothers him.

Nambala, 29, was in supreme form in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which were postponed.

He had made his plans clear with gold in his pet event - the 400m - at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai late last year with a season’s best time of 48.73 seconds. He won the bronze medal in the 100m trailing behind Ireland’s Jason Smyth and Australia’s Chad Perris.

“I have learnt from my mistakes (Rio 2016). I have improved since then. I have no doubt the Tokyo 2020 Games will be remarkable,” said Nambala.

“I was doing well and was in the zone for Tokyo 2020 Games when the pandemic struck. This setback is disappointing. People are helpless in such global calamities. COVID-19 came fast and at first, no one knew how dangerous it was. It spread around the world fast and disrupted people’s lives and routine. As an athlete and World Champion, the impact of COVID-19 has been devastating.

“I cannot train as usual. Further, there are no competitions around the world to gauge my progress. I hope everything will soon be safe so we can get back to our normal life and continue to chase our dreams,” added Nambala.

Reminiscing World Championships success

Winning Namibia’s first gold medal at the 2013 Worlds in Lyon, France, with a record-breaking performance (49.07 secs) in the 400m was a life-changing moment for Nambala. The win remains a major highlight of his career.

Overnight Nambala became popular and a household name in Namibia. Critics and rivals rate him highly across Africa. The five-time World Championship medallist feels he does not need more motivation to excel in his sport.

“There are many people out there who want me to do well. Medals motivate me and encourage me. Since I won my first medal in Lyon, France, I told myself that every competition that l take part, I will thrive to bring back a medal for my country,” said Nambala.

(L-R) Silver medallist Johannes Nambala of Namibia, gold medallist Jason Smyth of Ireland and bronze medallist Chad Perris of Australia celebrating on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m - T13 during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
(L-R) Silver medallist Johannes Nambala of Namibia, gold medallist Jason Smyth of Ireland and bronze medallist Chad Perris of Australia celebrating on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m - T13 during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

Getting back to training

Nambala, who mostly trains mostly in Europe, wants to get back to his regular training routine. He hopes controls ease soon and the pandemic situation gets better sooner than later.

“The training facilities are top class in Europe. Athletes have better equipment. You need to have access to excellent training facilities to compete against the best and stay at the top. Exposure to frequent high-level competitions is vital to know where you stand," he said.

“I plan to return to Europe once it is safe to do so. In the meantime, I will continue to train at home with the programme that the coach has given me. Then once situation improves, I will intensify my training. With such a lot happening, so fast, there is very little that you can plan. As of now, we all can hope for the best and keep working hard and stay fit."

By International Paralympic Committee