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Mozambicans are mourning the passing of one of their brightest sports stars.
Former national basketball player Amelia “Melita” Gune died in Maputo on Tuesday of illness. Gune brought home the Africa Clubs Champions Cup in 1991, playing for Maxaquene and wreaking havoc in matches alongside other legends of Mozambican women’s basketball such as Aurélia Manave, Esperança Sambo and Marta Monjane.
But to the earth, she gave up only her body. Because, it will be said, the talent of left-handed point guard and her marks are forever etched in the history of Mozambican and African basketball.
African, yes, because, going back in time, there is a record of the gold medal on her chest at the end of the African club championship in 1991 in Maputo.
Mélita Gunee made it to the Fiba-Africa “Wall of Fame” which, in October 2011, paid tribute to one of the most outstanding female athletes in women’s basketball over the last 50 years. At the gala held in Bamako, Mali, Fiba-Africa presented a tribute along with other athletes who belong to the golden generation of Mozambican basketball: Aurélia Manave, former captain of the national team, Esperança Sambo and Joaquina Balói (generation of 1981 and 1990) and Telma Manjate (1991 to 2000).
On the same night were honoured Freitas Branco, former president of the Mozambican Basketball Federation, and Marta Monjane, our “Martinha” who won the gold medal for Maxaquene in 1991.
On a night of distinctions, when Melita’s name echoed in Bamako, Mozambique was voted the third best team of the 80-90s decade in women’s basketball.
But the African area had become too small for her talent, and she moved to America, where she performed equally brilliantly.
At the apex of her career 14 years ago, cancer came knocking at her door. And it evolved, until at dawn on Tuesday it defeated her at the age of 43. But it cannot erase her work, which should serve as an inspiration for the values of Mozambican basketball and beyond.
Amelia Gune lived in the US, and had been vacationing in Mozambique for about two months when she fell ill on Sunday, February 18.
“On Sunday, she said she did not feel very well. She felt tired and her temperature was not good. She had the flu and a cough,” her sister Luísa Mendes explained.
The situation worsened the following day, and the former national team athlete was taken to the Clínica do Hospital Central de Maputo.
“She complained of coughing and could no longer control her diabetes. She had diabetes that was not Type 1 or 2, and couldn’t keep it stable. We went to the clinic and they gave her oxygen for her breathing. The doctors did everything they could, but she lost her life, ” said her sister.
Gune came to Mozambique for her grandmother’s 90th birthday on 17 February. “She was like a mother to her. She lived with our mother. We were together on Saturday, we went to Mass and then had lunch,” Luísa said.
There is not as yet any information on where the funeral will take place.
“That is undecided, because she did not live here in Mozambique. We talked to her husband on Tuesday. He asked us to wait a while because he had to talk to his children and then he would let us know. He was going to contact the US embassy, which was going to contact us for instructions. Today I received a call to go to the embassy and proceed with the delivery of documents,” her sister explained.Source: O País