Namibia has two aces in Olympic pack
Tiri Masawi & Thando Mnkandhla
Windhoek – Namibia is once again dreaming of Olympic glory with the emergence of sprint aces Christine Mboma (17) and Beatrice Masilingi (18).
The country has four Olympic medals, all of them silvers on the track by the legendary Frankie Fredericks at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Games in the 100m and 200m.
Since then, Namibia has been searching in vain for a genuine medal contender, and for the rescheduled 2020 Olympics, now being held this year because of COVID-19, the nation has two hopefuls in Mboma and Masilingi.
Mboma has struck a rich vein of form, setting a new personal best in the 400m last weekend in Windhoek. Her 49.22 seconds run was also a world best for the year, bettering her own mark of 49.24s.
For her part, Masilingi set a new Namibian record in the Under-20 200m category and in the process also sealed a place at the Tokyo Games.
The teen sensations both hail from Ndiyona in Kavango East Region and belong to Quinton Steele Bots Athletics Club.
Maslingi said, “We are friends but when you get on the track you have to concentrate on yourself and focus on winning the race.”
Mboma responded to this saying: “Beatrice inspired me a lot with her performances last year, she pushed me to train harder, and she is my friend.”
Track coach Henk Botha told The Southern Times Sports that he wanted the sprinters to participate in a few more preparatory events ahead of the Olympics.
“Now that it is clear that the athletes have qualified for the forthcoming Olympic Games, the hard work has started to get them ready for the gruelling competition. We are looking forward to having a competition in June where they will take some time to condition themselves,” he said.
Botha said psychological preparation was just as important as physical conditioning, and he was helping fine-tune the athletes to participate at the world’s premier athletics event, as well as in a COVID-19-secure bio-bubble.
“The athletes have what it takes to compete at the Olympics and we are all very focused on that,” he said.
Aside from Masilingi and Mboma, Namibia’s Olympic team also includes the iconic Helalia Johannes, who holds the national records in the 10km, 20km, half-marathon and marathon events.
Johannes won marathon World Championship bronze in 2019 at the ripe age of 39, and has represented Namibia at the 2008 and 2021 Olympics, as well as the 2018 Commonwealth Games.