Christine Mboma: How sprinter overcome tragedy to win over Namibia

Christine Mboma celebrate her silver medal at for di Tokyo Olympics

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Christine Mboma success for Tokyo come afta she get to abandon her running in di 400m, her preferred event

Wen she bin dey 13, friends begin abandon Christine Mboma – for some reasons – but now di ogbonge queen of Namibia sport na tok of di town for di kontri.

As she return from Tokyo, wia she became di first Namibia woman to win Olympic medal, her journey from airport reach di kontri capital Windhoek show her newfound status.

Na so 45-kilometre journey take three hours sake of di number of pipo wey come out to welcome her.

“Pipo bin dey scream my name dey run pursue di car – e dey crazy and fun,” Mboma, 18 years, tell BBC Sport Africa.

But five years ago, her tori bin dey very different inside one village for north of Namibia wia her single-parent family bin dey poor, she bin share one bedroom wit her grandmother and sleep on bed without mattress.

“I grow up wit single mum,” di BBC African Sports Personality of the Year nominee tok. “At 13, my mama die and I gatz stay wit my uncle and grandmother.

“Everytin change and I lost many friends. Some pipo no like me because I be orphan.”

To be orphan fit be bad experience sake of stigma wey connect to dia situation, as pipo dey see some of dem as financial burden while odas get superstitious believe say dem cari bad-luck.

Her father actually still dey alive but afta im abandon her mama, wey bin dey disabled, wen Mboma dey six years, im no be part of her family life again.

Na dis one make Mboma mature sharply-sharply as di responsibility fall on her to take care of her two siblings.

“Dem be my children now. Na hard life I bin dey live – stressing, and just thinking about my mama,” she tok. “I bin dey stress small, den I begin do sports.”

Her athletic abilities don dey change her life, not just financially but also geographically, as now she dey live nearly 500km from home with her coach Henk Botha and im family.

“She from a very poor background, Christine bin really suffer wen she dey grow up and den her mama die during childbirth, di pikin too follow die,” Botha, wey be former captain of Namibia rugby side tok.

“She gatz grow up quick becos she no get enough support. At di end, dat na di character we see.”

And which character be dat – on her journey to winning Olympic silver, dis teenager wey dey speak quietly overcome one unexpected ban, media storm and change of event, all inside less dan one month before di Games begin.

Nigeria Florence Ofili (Left) and Namibian Christine Mboma (Centre) and Beatrice Masilingi (Right) afta di women 200m final for di 2021 U20 World Athletics Championships in Kenya.

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Authorities find say Mboma and training partner Beatrice Masilingi get naturally-high testosterone levels for July

Rollercoaster ride

In less dan one week, Mboma career turn upside down.

On 30 June, she break di Under-20 world record for di 400m, her preferred event, for Poland – “I bin shock, but happy”.

Two days later, she learn say she no go fit compete over 400m because of her naturally-high testosterone levels – “I bin dey shock, and sad.”

“E be bad news,” she remember.

Governing body World Athletics’ rules say female athletes wey get over-high testosterone levels no go fit contest any race between 400m and di mile unless dem artificially reduce dia levels.

“I say I get one chance – di 200m,” Mboma remember. “If I bin dey tink about di 400m and all dat tin, I go lose focus and den I no go perform well for di Olympics.”

Witin two months of switching distances, Mboma break African and World U20 record for di 200m four times, all of dem except di one wey bin dey come for Tokyo.

“Wen I reach di Olympic final, I bin dey very scared,” di teenager wey tear rubber dis year on di athletics stage tok. “I just pretend say I dey okay, smiling and waving to pipo, cameras and all dat tin.”

She for no worry.

As di world bin dey watch, di girl wey just receive her first running spikes just three years before, gap childhood heroes Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou, she record her personal best to finish behind Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah.

“I bin no tink about di race – I bin just dey run – and wen I [cross] di line, dem say I be second. I bin dey touch my face, [dey think] ‘dis na real or abi I dey dream?'”

E no be dream but strong reality say Namibia, kontri of just 2.5 million pipo, don return to athletics top table for di first time since 1996, wen Frankie Fredericks win im fourth and last Olympic silver.

Eighteen days later, Mboma win di World Under-20 title (for Kenya) before, for September, twice she do well for high-quality field for Diamond League – she win di final for Zurich to claim di annual title.

Golden future?

Mboma say she no understand di complex World Athletics regulations wey concern athletes wey dem consider say dem get ‘Difference of Sexual Development’ (DSD).

“I no get idea,” she confess.

Her coach, meanwhile, say afta World Athletics tell am say Mboma and training partner Beatrice Masilingi no go fit contest di 400m due to DSD rules, im reject invitation to do more tests, sake of im no trust di organisation process.

As long as World Athletics no amend im rules more to cover 200m, wey Botha get some concerns about, Mboma dey surely eye beta future.

“My aim na to improve my personal best and see wetin go happun.”

Her best time, 21.78s, dat na 0.45s from di world record wey, if she fit significantly improve, she go grab am wit two hands. Also di Olympic gold, especially afta she don already get silver.

“Wen I take di medal and put am around my neck, tears bin dey my eyes. I never dream of becoming Olympian and now I get silver medal – I dey so proud.”

She dedicate di medal to anybody?

“Yes – my mama.”