Duchaine shines at 18th African Champs

Among 13 countries competing, only Egypt, South Africa and Tunisia kept Namibia's junior team off the podium.
Mariud Ngula
The 18th African Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, saw the Namibian junior team clinching the fourth overall spot.

The senior team also gave a solid performance to secure fifth place.

Egypt (first), South Africa (second) and Tunisia kept Namibia off the podium in the junior team competition. On the senior team standings, the same three nations as well as Angola were ahead of the Namibians.

The Namibia Gymnastics Federation was represented by seven gymnasts, accompanied by Eleonora Karamfilova and Wietsa Snyman as the team coaches.

Karamfilova said it was a competitive and memorable event.

“This was the biggest African Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships ever, with 13 countries, a total of 19 junior and 34 senior gymnasts.”

The championship saw the youngest team member, 13-year-old Kayla Duchaine, reach the best individual positions among the Namibians in the final round of the junior category (ages 13 to 15), where her routine secured the fifth spot in three disciplines (hoops, ball and clubs) and seventh in ribbon.

Duchaine described it as an incredibly humbling experience – qualifying for the final and holding on to fifth place in three out of four routines, with a respectable seventh place in one routine.

Duchaine expressed gratitude to the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) and sponsors who made the trip a reality for them.

“Additionally, I would like to thank my coaches, parents and the Namibian nation for their unwavering support and motivation,” she said.

Her compatriot in the junior category, Peya Kashaka, was right on her heels in the finals at sixth place in hoops, eighth in ball and ribbon, and seventh in clubs.

On the overall individual junior standings after day one’s all-around competition, Kashaka was placed ninth, Duchaine eleventh and Faiza Hamutenya 16th.

In the senior category, Emilia Ekandjo was placed 17th, Joy-Lana Kaboy 18th, Kenandjo Mupia 24th and Ngatangue Hambeka in the 26th position, with neither advancing to the finals.