Windhoek – Olympian Gaby Ahrens (39) has found a new love in unearthing Namibia’s next generation of stars.
Counted among one of Namibia’s greatest athletes after competing in the trap (shooting) event in the 2008, 2012 – where she was her country’s first female flag-bearer) – Ahrens wants to be the gift the keeps on giving.
As chairperson of the Athletes Commission of Namibia and an executive board member of the Namibia National Olympic Committee, she is ensuring that her vast experience contributes to growth of not just shooting, but all sporting codes.
“I work with a lot of athletes that are active and we try to find solutions that affect us across the board. This is rewarding as it allows us to deal with our challenges head-on,” she said.
Having been named Namibia Sportswoman of the Year in 2010, the same year she won bronze at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in the trap event, Ahrens laments the decline of the sport of shooting as in the country.
“It is unfortunate that sports like shooting have sort of died in Namibia since 2016 because we have never really had a venue to practice. Even the young ones who would like to follow the sport might not get the opportunity.
“Aside from this, the sport is also very expensive and has serious limitations; like not many people can own a gun as this is (extensively) regulated, “she said.
While not everyone can become a shootist, there are easier avenues to pursue a career in sport.
“I would love to see sports like cricket, rugby and football, which do not require expensive equipment, being played by young people anywhere in Namibia the same way it happens in countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“It gets even better if these sports are played in schools. Our biggest challenge right now is to make sure that we find a way of reintroducing sports in schools,” she said.
The coronavirus-induced lockdown has meant athletes have not had much time to practice and compete, and even though she retired in 2016, Ahrens feels their pain.
“It is not very easy for athletes to get used to this situation because most athletes find happiness in competition. I think this is the worst period that athletes anywhere have gone through,” she told The Southern Times Sport.
As chairperson of the Athletes Commission of Namibia, she has found a way to ensure her vast experience contributes to growth of not just shooting, but all sporting codes.
“I work with a lot of athletes that are active and we try to find solutions that affect us across the board . This is more rewarding as it allows us to deal with our challenges head on,” she said.