Otjiwarongo – Athletics Namibia (AN) president Erwin Naimhwaka has congratulated the organisers of the inaugural 2019 National Cross-Country Championship Run held at Paresis Sports Centre in Otjiwarongo on Saturday.
Speaking to Nampa at the conclusion of the race, Naimhwaka said following the disappearance of road races in Namibia in the past two to three years, he was encouraged by the interest of the athletes.
“We should start with each region hosting its own cross-country event and selecting their participants for the nationals. The youngsters came out in numbers, and this is good for the development of athletics,” he added.
He explained that cross-country running serves as preparation for upcoming seasons, hence this event was held early in the year so as to give athletes an opportunity to test their level of fitness.
He noted that Otjiwarongo attracted big name athletes especially in the male section, but recorded a low turnout in the women’s category.
This, he continued, could be attributed to the fact that it was the first time the race was held and athletes were not sure if it would be a success, coupled with the fact that there were no prizes for the race because of lack of sponsorship.
Naimhwaka said the top two senior ladies and men would represent the county at the upcoming Confederation of African Athletics Southern Region (CAASR) Cross-Country Championships in Lesotho on 02 March 2019, as well as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Cross Country Championships in Denmark later on 30 March.
“This year will be a busy year for AN, because of the IAAF event and the qualifiers for the Olympics in Japan next year,” he noted, calling on clubs to register with the athletics body in order to assist the athletes representing the country.
“We have so many regional competitions this year and we would like to use them to expose our athletes. Our clubs should register all their athletes with us to allow us to select them. No unregistered athlete will be selected to represent the country,” he said.
As for the upcoming Olympic games next year, the AN president said they hope to have better preparations, adding that the lack of funds is a hampering issue.
“We already have Hilaria Johannes who qualified for next year, but the guys still have enough time to qualify. I am only worried with the track and field guys for now,” he said.
AN will host their next events on Saturday, 09 February in Swakopmund and Windhoek; the Swakop Striders Marathon Championships, and the University of Namibia (UNAM) Athletics Club’s Relays Championships 2019 at UNAM. - Nampa