No. 49: ‘Amphibian Namibian’ makes history in pool

Gideon Nasilowski – dubbed the Amphibian Namibian – has entered into the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2013 after becoming the first Namibian swimmer to enter a World Championships. 14 Nov 2013
By IPC

“They are starting to see we are real athletes and we are serious about our sport.”

Dubbed the "Amphibian Namibian" in national media, Gideon Nasilowski entered the record books as the first Namibian ever to enter an international swimming competition at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada.

The 28 year-old proved doubters, including his friends, wrong, by entering three events following work between the Agitos Foundation and his National Paralympic Committee.

Nasilowski attended a development camp set-up by the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) development arm, working within countries, to tap into talent where para-sport has a lower profile and resources might be thinner on the ground.

“We don’t have the fancy dieticians, managers coaches etc, but what we have is the heart of a lion and hunger for success,” Nasilowski said.

Remembering the moment when he got the news that he would be heading to Montreal, Nasilowski recalls the emotions he felt:

“I don’t think I could ever express this feeling in words, my whole body was shaking and I cried uncontrollably.”

Following Montreal 2013, Nasilowksi returned to his country to find that national media had penned a creative new nickname for him – the Amphibian Namibian. Despite leaving without a medal he thinks that his journey to Canada was an important step toward altering perceptions at home.

“I can see the change in attitude people in Namibia have towards people with disabilities. They don’t seem to pity us all that much anymore.

“They are starting to see we are real athletes and we are serious about our sport.”

Ironically Nasilowski was afraid of water as a child, but during school his teachers helped him overcome his fear and taught him to swim. It was not until the age of 26 that he began to compete on a national level, following a challenge by his friends who thought it would be impossible.

“The thing I love most about this achievement is to prove the world wrong. I believe they should scratch the word from the dictionary because nothing in life is impossible.”

The next step for the swimmer is to make it to the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, and then further to Rio 2016. Despite it being a huge challenge, Nasilowski is adamant that he will not only be there but that he can compete for a medal.

“I don’t think I’ll make it to Rio, I know I will make it," he said.

I also would like to warn the world Namibia is getting strong and by Rio don’t be surprised if we take home the gold.”

The Top 50 Moments of 2013 will continue to be counted down until the end of the year. Each day will see a new moment from Paralympic sport unveiled.

Fans are encouraged to interact with the Top 50 Moments campaign across social media using the hashtag #IPCTop50. You can follow moments from each day at Paralympic Games Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and ParalympicSport.TV on YouTube.

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