Benson to retire
… after this year’s Paralympics
By Michael Uugwanga
THE country’s first Paralympian gold medallist, Johanna Benson (31) has said that she will retire after the Tokyo Summer Paralympic Games that are scheduled to take place in Japan between August 24 and September 5 2021.
“I am going to retire after these Paralympics because I have been at three world championships, three All-Africa Games, three Commonwealth Games and now I will be heading to my third Paralympics Games.
“I have achieved what I have always wanted to achieve and that is to win a gold medal at the Paralympics. The pressure is now too much and therefore I do not want to be pressured further”, she said.
Benson became the first Namibian athlete to win a gold medal at any Olympic Games following her win in the Women’s 200m T37 at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games held in London, UK.
At the 2012 event she also won a silver medal in the 100m T37 and is today one of the country’s most celebrated athletes in the same breath as legendary sprinter and Olympics four time silver medallist Frank Fredericks and fellow Paralympian Ananias Shikongo who is the first male athlete to win a gold medal for the country after winning the 200m T11 at the 2016 Paralympics Games in Rio, Brazil.
Benson announced the news to Confidente Sport this week after taking part at the Athletics Namibia grand prix leg 1 that was held in Swakopmund at the weekend, in which together with fellow Paralympian sprinter Lahja Ishitile (visual impaired sprinter) were running in the Women’s 400m race against able-bodied athlete Ashanty Swartz, who won the race, while Ishitile came second and Benson in third place.
“I am still and always been myself even after the 2021. I was never full of myself after the gold medal in London but what I did was just that I distanced myself from some people,” said Benson.
Life after athletics
Benson who currently works as an assistant human resources manager at Hangana Seafood in Walvis Bay has said that if it was not for athletics she would not have the job she is currently enjoying.
She also said that she plans to start a soup kitchen in Walvis Bay.
“Athletics really opened many doors for me. Had it not been for athletics in particular the gold medal, I would not be employed as we all know that disabled people are never given the same treatment like those not disabled when it comes to jobs. I want to start a soup kitchen in Walvis Bay and I also want to start my own family … having kids,” said Benson, adding that she has a boyfriend.
She also told Confidente that she plans to relocate her 2012 medals haul currently kept safe in Namibia to Europe for better protection, while at the same time she also plans to hand over her other medals to the museum in Swakopmund.
“I want my Paralympics medals to go to Europe because I feel that they are not safe in Namibia. If there was a museum in Walvis Bay, I would take my other medals to a museum in my home town”.