Shikongo to retire after 2025 Games

By Michael Uugwanga

PARALYMPIC gold medallist, Ananias Shikongo said the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games will not be his last as he intends to run in France in 2025, even though he will be 39 by the time the Paris Games start.

Shikongo (34) wants to emulate top able-bodied veteran athletes such as American icons Justin Gatlin (38) and Tyson Gay who specialise in the 100 and 200m events. His local hero is renowned sprinter Frank Fredericks.

The latest Paralympic Games had been scheduled for August this year before being rescheduled to next year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which also forced the 2024 Paralympic Games to be postponed to 2025 due to the fact that the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Games are hosted every four years.

The visually impaired sprinter competes in the T11 class, where para athletes wear a blindfold, and are accompanied by guides. Shikongo runs alongside his guide Even Tjiviju.

In an interview with Confidente Sports Desk, the vocal Shikongo said he was ready to compete at this year’s event before the outbreak of Covid-19 that saw sporting events around the globe rescheduled.

“My idea first was to retire at this year’s event before it was rescheduled for next year due to Covid-19 but I have changed my mind as I still feel like running at the 2025 Paralympic Games unless my body says enough is enough.   

“I want to retire after the Paris Games.  I am still strong mentally, physically and spiritually.  I am so impressed by Gatlin who is still running despite his age. Gay is also a good athlete,” said the Paralympian.

Shikongo was four when he lost his left eye in an accident as his brother tried to shoot birds using a bow and arrow, three years later, while working in a field, a donkey kicked him in his right eye, resulting in him losing sight in that eye too.

Despite his unfortunate past, Shikongo won Paralympic gold at Rio 2016 becoming the first Namibian man to win an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal.

Shikongo is to date one of the country’s most decorated athletes, having won the 200m T11 as well as 100m and 400m T11 bronze medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Shikongo will not be defending his 200m T11 crown at next year’s Games, following International Paralympic Committee (IPC)’s removal of the 200m T11 heat, this means if he is to win a gold medal he will have to do that in the 100m or in the 400m T11 race.

“Covid-19 really disappointed me. But on the other hand it also gives me enough time to rectify the mistakes I made at the Rio Games in the 100m and 400m T11 heats,” he said.

Shikongo is coached by top athletic coach Letu Hamhola.