18-year-old Namibian athlete Christine Mboma has been crowned the BBC African Sports Personality of the Year for 2021.
The teenage sensation inked her name in history books when she became the first Namibian woman to win an Olympic medal as she claimed silver in a star-studded women’s 200 meters final. She finished only behind gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica.
Besides winning silver in the Olympics, Mboma was also a Diamond League champion and Under-20 gold medallist over 200m. She broke the world under-20 record as she ran 21.81 sec in the finals.
“I feel great and really proud to be a Namibian,” she told BBC Sport Africa on receiving her award. “I dedicate this BBC award to all Namibians. This is [a reward] for all the hard work I have done. It is always great to put my country on the spot. I always make my country proud and I thank all the Namibians who voted for me. They will go crazy when they hear this,” she added.
To win her latest brag, Mboma had to again see off competition from a stacked nomination list of world class sports stars from the continent. The nomination list included Kenyan runners Eliud Kipchoge and Faith Kipyegon, South African para-athlete Ntando Mahlangu, Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker.
She is now the second Namibian to win the BBC award after sprinter Frankie Fredericks won the BBC African Sports Star of the Year award in 1993.
However, while 2021 was a record-breaking year for Mboma, the year came with its bag of setbacks. In July, the international governing body for athletics, World Athletics, barred her from competing in her preferred 400m over claims that she had an overly high level of testosterone.
According to the governing body, athletes with high testosterone have an “unfair advantage” in races between 400m and the mile.
The challenge however, did not deter her as she continued her sparkling season by winning gold in her debut Diamond League appearance in Zurich.
“I felt disappointed but I did not give up,” she said reminiscing the controversial moment.
“I didn’t expect [the rest of 2021 would go so well] after what happened but I am really proud of myself for all the achievements I have done. It was very difficult.
“My achievement will motivate young athletes from Africa, and here in Namibia, to try to do their best and to work hard in their dream.”