Spiderman speaks on his swimming journey

… dreams of Tokyo Games

By Michael Uugwanga

ALTHOUGH para-swimmer Mateus ‘Spiderman’ Angula took up the sport of swimming two years ago, there is no doubt that he has established himself as one of the continent’s leading para-swimmers given his accolades.

Since arriving on the swimming scene as one of Africa’s brightest para-swimmers, the 26-year-old has generally gone about his business quietly away from the limelight.

Angula was born without legs and raised by one of his uncles in Elambo in Oshikoto region.

Since his family was unable to afford a wheelchair, his every move required immense effort and he never considered himself to be different and was always an active child, helping his uncle to herd cattle and goats while his mother worked to raise the funds for his education.

Although he finally received his first wheelchair at the age of eight, his life challenges did not end there as he began to encounter prejudice for the first time. 

Before taking up swimming, Angula began throwing javelin and it was on a trip to South Africa in 2016 when it was suggested to him that he should try utilising his upper body strength in the swimming pool. 

“I only started thinking about swimming at 24, so I am still searching for my hero (idol), but I take pride in being my own man. I never dreamt of travelling outside of Namibia before swimming. Now with swimming I look forward to competing worldwide and seeing different countries and learning about new cultures as well as expand my horizons.

“My aim after finishing secondary school was to study aquatic sciences. Previously I was a javelin thrower where I competed at the South African championship and I also had some success in canoe polo. I was scouted and advised by Memory (Kahlari) from the Namibia National Paralympic Committee (NNPC) after the success of Gideon Nasilowski (retired para-swimmer) to focus on swimming and I am very happy with my decision thus far,” said Angula.

Just like any athletes, it is a dream for one to prove himself or herself at major events such as the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games and Angula is no exception when it comes to having such a dream.

Qualifying to next year’s Paralympics will come with hard work, dedication and commitment, and lucky enough Angula is being mentored by top swimming coach, Sonja Lindemeier.

“My best moment was being number one in Africa in 50m freestyle at the South African championships in Durban in 2019.

My aim now is to qualify to the Paralympics Games and finish in the top 10. Under Covid-19, training has been extremely tough for me and to keep a routine. I just want Covid to end so that I start with my swimming career again. I have been cycling and doing some physical activities, lots of push-ups and pull ups,” said Angula.