Dubai: Move aside Roger Milla and Samuel Eto’o. Here comes a band of Cameroonian para athletes who want to make a point or two on the international stage.
Led by the experience of coach Jean Claude Atchom, a team of seven para athletes want to clear the air that Cameroon is multi-talented in other sports as well.
“We are just out to prove something different to the world. Cameroon is not just about Roger Milla and Samuel Eto’o. There are other sports that we are involved in and we want to prove this as we go along,” F55 shot putter Christian Gobe told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Dubai 2019 World Para Athletics Championships that formally opened late on Thursday.
“Sports is my life and I have been at this for more than 20 years now. I have to be the best, and for this I will need to compete against the best and win some more medals. Football is not the only sport we do in Cameroon, and this is what we need to prove to the world while being the best. I’ve got a good feeling inside me and I can’t wait to go out there and give off my best for Cameroon,” he added.
The squad from Cameroon landed in the early hours of Thursday, and Gobe (F55 shot put) and his understudy Charles Atangana (F11 shot put) were among the first to be seen in action from the team. Gobe contracted polio as a child and took up sport as part of his rehabilitation. He later moved to Switzerland to attend the University of Geneva.
He made the team for the 2012 Summer Paralympics, but passport issues kept him out despite being named on the team. He was the sole athlete from Cameroon at the 2016 Rio Games where he stood eighth in the F55 shot put final. Gobe holds the continental record for the F55 shot put, having broken his own record several times in 2015 and 2016.
By contrast, even though a novice, Atangana has proved he is capable of raising the standard. The vision impaired athlete won three medals in Dubai at the 2015 Fazza Championships held in Dubai, and later went on to clinch gold in the men’s T11 100m in a time of 12.03 seconds while setting an ‘A’ qualifying mark for the 2016 Rio Summer Paralympics.
“Ours is definitely a country of many talents, and we have travelled here today to show the world that para sports is a reality in Cameroon,” Atangana said. “We believe we are the new trend-setters for Cameroon. I’ve been more than fortunate to be part of this movement whereby we can prove to the world that Cameroon can be at the top in para athletics as well.”