Mboma basks in BBC award glory, hopes to motivate young Africans

Christine Mboma

Namibia's Christine Mboma celebrates after winning the women's 200m during the Absa Kip Keino Classic at Kasarani on September 18, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ben Sutherland, the Editor, BBC Sport Africa said Mboma might "only" have got a silver at Tokyo 2020, but it is her story that clearly resonated with the World Service audience who voted for this award. 
  • “A Namibian teenager unheard of before the start of the year, she starts to break through in the early months of 2021 - but in the 400m,” Sutherland said.

Christine Mboma hopes her BBC African Sports Personality of the Year Award will motivate young African sportsmen and women.

Mboma was selected via a public vote from a shortlist of six contenders for the top award.

The other nominees were Eliud Kipchoge, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon (Kenya, athletics), Ntando Mahlangu (South Africa, para athletics), Edouard Mendy (Senegal, football) and Tatjana Schoenmaker (South Africa, swimming).

She was announced as the winner last Friday during the BBC Focus on Africa TV and radio and becomes the first and youngest female and the second Nambian after Frankie Fredericks to win a BBC sporting award.

“I feel great and am really proud to be a Namibian and I thank all the Namibians who voted for me. I did not expect to win,” Mboma said.

“The award is a reward for all the hard work and all the achievements that I have done. I didn’t expect 2021 would be like this after what happened but I am really proud of myself for all the achievements I have done. 

“It was very difficult. It is always great to put my country on the top spot, I always make my country proud and it feels great to win the award.

“My achievement will motivate young athletes from Africa, and here in Namibia, to try do their best and to work hard for their dreams. I dedicate this BBC award to all Namibians.”

At just 18 years old, Christine became the first Namibian woman to ever stand on an Olympic podium after winning silver in the 200m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games – finishing behind five-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica. 

Orphaned at 13, life has been hard for Christine but this has not stopped her reaching the top. 

In September 2021, Mboma became the 200m Diamond League champion with a time of 21.78 seconds, which set both another under-20 world record and a new African record. 

Her coach Henk Botha said: “Awards like these means a lot to all athletes. It was a very strong field, all the contestants are superstars of African sport so for me as a coach of the athlete, it is a great privilege and honour to be part of any award from the BBC. 

“It is just out of this world for a  little place like Namibia and a young girl that not more than three years ago, ran barefoot in the sand. She got such an excellent award so obviously this is unbelievable.”

Ben Sutherland, the Editor, BBC Sport Africa said Mboma might "only" have got a silver at Tokyo 2020, but it is her story that clearly resonated with the World Service audience who voted for this award. 

“A Namibian teenager unheard of before the start of the year, she starts to break through in the early months of 2021 - but in the 400m,” Sutherland said.

“Then virtually on the eve of the Olympics a notification is made that her naturally-occurring testosterone levels are too high. 

“To keep her Olympic dream alive she switches to 200m - an event she has never competed in before, and which is arguably the most competitive field in any athletics discipline right now - with talent like Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Dina Asher-Smith, Marie-Josee Ta Lou. To go into that event with no experience and get a silver at that age is a stunning achievement, and I think that's what our audience recognised."

Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services and Director of BBC World Service, said: “I want to wholeheartedly congratulate Christine Mbona as this year’s recipient of the BBC African Sports Personality of the Year award. 

“This is a great award which honours the achievements of the talented sportswomen and men across the continent. 

“Christine Mboma has shown incredible strength and determination in the face of adversity and at just 18 years old she is the youngest female winner for this award.

Congratulations Christine!

This award builds upon BBC Africa’s efforts to promote sport and provide global visibility for African athletes across our platforms.”

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