At 39, marathon star is still hungry

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Tiri Masawi

Windhoek – Neither age nor the new coronavirus can stop top Namibian athlete Helalia Johannes (39) from crossing another finishing line.

The multiple award-winning athlete this week told The Southern Times Sport that as surely as the restrictions on sporting activities occasioned by COVID-19 would end, she would be back in the hunt for more victories.

“I recently started training with my team since government relaxed the lockdown regulations, but I feel pity for athletes who rely solely on competitions for income. As an A-list athlete I am privileged to have a full-time job with the military that caters for me, but it is not the same for everyone,” she commiserated with her fellow competitors.

Johannes is a living legend. The holder of a Commonwealth marathon title, she also won a World Athletics Championship medal in 2019 and the famed Two Oceans Marathon.

“I think my next event should be around November and I have already started training hard for it,” she said. “I do not know whether things would have normalised, nor will we be able to travel but my focus in getting back to what I do best.”

The issue of lost opportunities because of COVID-19 weighs heavily on Johannes mind.

“I train a lot with other counterparts in other countries in the region but of late it has not been easy. Most athletes might actually find it very difficult to recover and settle back into their best because the pandemic happened when we least expected.

“While we may complain about it, I have always understood that the lockdown was meant to protect all of us so it is something that we had to shoulder.

“Although many would complain about the challenges COVID-19 brought … I have kept a cool head and trained as hard as I could indoors so I remain in shape. Sometimes all we can do is believe that we will do this again and keep focussed,” she said.

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