Kazenambo to attend OlympicsBy: SHEEFENI NIKODEMUS
SPORT Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo will be Namibia’s highest ranking dignitary at the Olympic Games in London next month.
Earlier this year, Kazenambo reportedly turned down an invitation from the International Olympic Committee to attend the global spectacle because he had other commitments.
But yesterday, the deputy secretary general of the Namibia National Olympic Committee, Joan Smit, said the minister, who has in the past openly expressed his lack of interest in sport, would be present in London.
It is not clear whether he will be at the event for its entire duration – July 27 to 12 August.
Namibia will also send the deputy director of sport, Dr Vetumbuavi Veii, NNOC president Agnes Tjongarero and Abner Xoagub, the NNOC secretary general.
Another NNOC member, Ndeulipula Hamutumwa, is the designated Chef de Mission of the Namibian Olympic team.
“We already received their accreditation last week. The minister has the privilege of taking a guest of his choice and that guest is Dr Veii,” said Smit.
Smit also said that the number of accompanying team officials is significantly lower than at previous Olympics.
Each sport code will have one official, but boxing and athletics are allowed an auxiliary official each as per IOC regulations.
“The number of officials is determined by the IOC,” Smit said. “The coaches will act as the team managers. For instance, at the moment we will only have nine officials who will be going with the nine athletes.”
Namibia so far has nine athletes who have qualified for the Olympic Games and five who have made the grade for the Paralympics.
Namibia’s team consists of marathon runners Beata Naigambo and Helalia Johannes, cyclist Dan Craven, mountain bike rider Marc Bassingthwaighte, wrestler Sem Shilimela, shottist Gaby Ahrens, 400m athlete Tjipekapora Herunga and boxers Mujandjae Kasuto and Jonas Matheus.
Smit said Naigambo and Johannes are training in Namibia, while Herunga is sharpening her routine in Europe.
Craven and Bassingthwaighte are keeping fit with their respective teams on the European circuit, while wrestler Shilimela is based in Senegal
The Paralympics athletes went to South Africa last week to compete at their national event and the two boxers are expected to leave for a training camp in Cuba towards the end of this week.
“I think our athletes are better prepared this time than they were for the last Olympics. We are really on target in terms of our preparations. What we hope is that none of our athletes get injured during this time,” said Smit, who was optimistic about the chances of podium place finishes for Namibia in London.
“We have good athletes and I believe they are strong medal contenders.”