Windhoek – Namibian sprint princesses Beatrice Masilingi (18) and Christine Mboma (17) are more than ready for their Olympic debuts, their coach has said.
A couple of fine performances in Europe towards the end of June has had coach Henk Botha purring, though he did indicate more work had to be put on before the Tokyo Games that run from July 23 to August 8.
Two weeks ago, Masilingi won the 400m race at the Orlen Janusz Kusocinski memorial meet in Poland, stopping the clock at 48.88s. Mboma, also a fortnight ago, won the 200m at the Madrid Meet in 22.79s, which was her second-fastest time ever over that distance.
Mboma’s time was just shy of her personal best of 22.67s, which is also the national record, and it was her second victory if two starts in Europe following victory in Prague just two weeks before the Madrid race.
Masilingi’s performance in the 400m was one of the best over the distance this year, with only Mboma, Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Athing Mu (United States) posting better times in 2021.
Coach Botha told The Southern Times Sport that he would continue training the young sprinters in Europe before their departure for Japan.
He said Masilingi and Mboma were “more than inspired by the multitudes of fans that are rallying behind them from back home in Namibia”.
He added that while Namibia was experiencing a torrid time due to the third wave of COVID-19, the exploits of the two athletes gave the nation something to smile about.
“The girls are doing exceptionally well and look very ready for the forthcoming Olympics. It is not an easy time because COVID-19 is wreaking havoc back home but we do appreciate all the support that our supporters in Namibia are giving us and we are working hard to pay them back,” Botha said.
Botha said Masilingi and Mboma were in good spirits and they had adapted well to the European training camp conditions.
Namibian sprint great Tjipee Herunga has also been singing the girls’ praises.
“I’m very proud of those two girls. The things they are currently doing are amazing and we are all proud as a nation … but I just hope they won’t succumb to the growing pressure. They are still young and still have a lot to learn. There are some things they are missing out during races, but I have also been in touch with them sharing a few pieces of advice. I want to see them succeed and make the country proud as they have been doing,” said Herunga.
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.
Namibia has won 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.