Lahja Ishitile

T11 (total blind)

Lahja Ishitile

Athletics - category T11 (total blind)

Ishitile is Namibia's future champion. She already competed at the highest stages at the Paralympic Games of Rio2016.

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Sydney Kamuaruuma

Lahja and Covid-19

Lahja recently started a course of journalism at the college of arts in Outapi, Namibia. Due to the current Covid-19 circumstances, the Olympic and Paralympic games of Tokyo, Japan are postponed to 2021. It’s hard to keep up the preparations, but Lahja never lost her ambition:

 

 

“I want to be somebody in the future. Somebody who will make everyone cheer over her. I want to become a responsible, kind and peaceful role model to the Namibian nation.” 

Background

Omagano Lahja Ishitile is one of Namibians promising para-athletes. Despite her young age she already performed on the highest stages in para-athletics world wide. Lahja is one of the twins which were born on the 21st of July 1997 in Outapi in northern Namibia and grew up in Okapanda village in the Oshikoto region.

 

By the age of seven she however started losing sight in her left eye and it later spread to her right eye. Her condition gradually worsened and by the age of 11 she was completely blind. She was sent to Eluwa Special School and started competing in school competitions. She also joined the Oshana Heroes Club in Oshakati. In 2010 Lahja went to a national competition where she won gold in her favourite events: 100, 200 and 400 metres sprint. Her talent was not unseen and two years later she ran with current World Champion Johannes Nambala as her guide in her first international SADC competition. 

 

In 2013 she joined the Namibian National Paralympic Team (NNPC) for the annual competition in South Africa, which is a key participation in order to qualify for the bigger international events. Lahja, with only sixteen years of age, qualified for the World Para-Athletics Championship in Lyon in France in her category T11 (total blind). 

 

In Lyon she competed in the 100 metres event where she made it into the semi-finals. She also ran the finals in the 400 meters event and reached a fourth place. The results left Lahja with a heavy heart as well demotivated, because she was not used to the fierce and strong competition. Her performance was crowned with winning the Junior Sportswoman of the Year award for several years in a row. 

Since then Lahja has been part of the NNPC para-team traveling around the world for international competitions and also studying for school at the same time. 

 

Rio2016 Paralympic Games and beyond

In 2016, the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Lahja had successfully progressed to grade 9. It was really hard for her to find a balance in both school and sport performances. School was getting tougher day by day and she felt put under a lot of pressure. Lahja decided to pause sport for a while, whilst the coaches were pushing for Olympic training. These circumstances complicated her life a lot, but she was able to join the team to the most important competition of all: the Paralympic Games!

 

Lahja and guide David Ndeilenga managed to qualify for the semifinals in the 100m and 200m events. In the 400m event she did not advance to the next round. These Paralympic Games were a fantastic experience for Lahja, despite not winning a medal. After the hectic of Rio2016 was gone, Lahja missed the World Championship Games 2017 in London, England, due to an injury to her knee. Her comeback wasn’t earlier than 2019. 

 

In 2019 she participated at an IPC Competition in Paris, where she won bronze in 100m (13,80 sec) and ran in the 200m (29,78sec) event. She also started to participate in long jump and 3,34 m and she ended in the 9th position in Paris. After qualifying for the World Championships in Dubai, November 2019, Lahja trained more and harder. This resulted in a personal best of 4,44meter in long jump. She also ran in the 400m events but did not qualify for the finals. In the 200m she ran a season’s best (26.99sec) and made it to the semifinals where she was disqualified (a new rule: 7.10 Guide runners must not push, pull or otherwise propel athletes). She also stranded in the semi finals in the 100m event (12.68sec). The Namibian team also participated in the Universal Relay. 

 

Support Lahja

Lahja wants to become the well known golden girl, a proud youth with a favorite job. Lahja makes her achievements with little support and very limited resources. However, her next goals requires to optimize the environment that supports his personal and her athlete life:

  • enhance training efforts;
  • improve equipment;
  • support travel conditions;
  • optimise nutrition

All these aspects have room, and need, for improvement. Your support will help her to optimize preparations. Contact us to support Lahja in achieving her dreams! We will be happy to answer your questions directly.

Sport achievements

Watch the Women's 400m T11 | Round 1 at the London World Championships 2017.

Best results

 

Paralympics 2016 (Rio de Janeiro):

 

Athlete Events Heat Semifinal
Time Rank Time
Lahja Ishitile

(Guide – David Ndeilenga)

(Guide – Sam Shimanda)

100 m T11 12.59 2 Q 12.56
200 m T11 25,61 2 Q 25,37
400 m T11 58.97 2 N/A

 

 

  • At the age of 15, she was selected to the Namibian team to compete at the Zone 6 Youth Games in Lusaka, Zambia and won three gold medals.
  • In 2014, when she was just 17 years, Lahja participated in her first CommonWealth games in Glasgow, Scotland. She was able to win a bronze medal alongside the T12 ladies in the 100m event. 
  • Lahja and her guide were successful in the all African Games in Brazzaville Congo, in March 2015. These results opened doors for participation in the World Championships in Doha, Qatar. She was unlucky to win any more medals, but improved her personal best time in every event she participated in.