A day in the life of para-swimmer ‘Spiderman’

• By Michael Uugwanga

FOR the country’s paralympian and team Namibia athlete Mateus ‘Spiderman’ Angula, the water is not just the place where he competes but it is also the place where he finds peace and now, the journey towards finding that private, healing place is to be shared with the world.

Angula, 28, is the current best para-swimmer in the country and he continues to fly the country’s flag high everywhere he goes to compete at major international events.

This week, Confidente caught up with Angula to talk about his upbringing, his private, dreams and his way of survival.

Angula started the sport of swimming in 2016, but before that he used to do javeline throw when he was scouted by Namibian Paralympic Committee (NPC) official Memory Kahlari who suggested him to switch to par-swimming in order to utilise his upper body strength and today he is being coached by one of the country’s best swimming coach Sonia Lindemeier, who also happens to be the mother to Angula’s most influential swimmer Daniela Lindemeier.

He was born without legs, and today he has won numerous accolades to his name, notably two gold medals, gold in the 100m freestyle and a gold medal in the 50m backstroke all in Durban, South Africa in 2019, while other medals won are two bronze medals, a bronze in the 50m backstroke in Kenya at the African Swimming Championships and another bronze medal in the 100m freestyle in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

He also participated at the 2019 South Africa Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD) in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Angula has competed at major international championships, notably at the 2022 World Championships in Madeira, Portugal in June, world championships in 2017 in Mexico and at the 2019 world championships in London.

“I am from Elambo village in Omusati region and that is where I did my grade one (1) until grade 12. I then moved to Windhoek to further my education first at Triumphant College where I was doing electrical engineering, but did not finish there as I left in my second year due to financial constraints, after that I decided to register with Windhoek Vocational Training Center (WVTC) Windhoek but again I had to dropout due to finance. At VTC I ended in level three and I am willing to go back to finish once I have the finance. Swimming all started in 2016 when I was swimming with my friends in Pretoria (South Africa) then someone (Kahlari) told me that since the country does not have para-swimmers why I can not take up swimming,” said Angula.

He currently does not have a sponsor, but he will keep on inspiring other Namibians in a similar condition like him that anything is possible if one just believe in him/herself.

As a way of bringing bread on the table, Angula runs his own little tuck-shop in Greenwell Matongo in Katutura, Windhoek.

He also lives in a shack which he pays monthly grant from the little money he makes from his tuck-shop.

“I am renting here where this tuck-shop is because it is not my own place. Even at the shack where I stay I am also renting. I stay alone. I have no kids and no girlfriend for now. I am not sure why I do not have a sponsor, but it is my dream for me to have a sponsor on board,” said Angula.

With his class S6 not at the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, UK, which starts from next month (July) to August, Angula is now focusing on the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, France.

“I always keep my-self fit   by being inside the water before an event and also through online exercises. I have a good coach that trains me well. Recently I have achieved a personal best (PB) of 44seconds, compare to the previous 51 seconds, so now my focus is to achieve a 40 seconds. My aim will be the Paris Games,” said Angula.