Athletics Grand Prix Series in full swing 

Chrislene Klein in action. Photo: Helge Schütz

The Pupkewitz Foundation on Tuesday formally launched their partnership with Athletics Namibia for the upcoming athletics season.

The partnership entails a five-leg Athletics Grand Prix series, that already kicked off in Swakopmund on 27 January, with four more events scheduled over the next month.

The second leg of the series takes place at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium this coming Saturday, 10 February, while the third leg of the series will be held at the Rietfontein track about 30km from Grootfontein on 17 February. 

The series will conclude with Grand Prix IV at Otjiwarongo on 24 February and Grand Prix V at Oshakati on 2 March. 

Athletics administrator and organiser Bethold Karumendu said spectators can expect to see some great races in the series.

“We would like to thank the Pupkewitz Foundation for their investment in Namibian athletics and I’m sure spectators will be in for a treat as some great races lie in store in the series.”

“The qualification deadline for the African Games in Ghana is on 20 February so I expect all our top athletes will be in action as they try to qualify in their various disciplines,” he added.

Numerous athletes still have a good chance of qualifying for the African Games which take place in Accra in March, and with a full house of events scheduled for Grand Prix II, spectators can expect some great contests. 

The event kicks off at 16h00 on Saturday with the men and women’s 400m, and with especially several men close to qualifying for the African Games, a great race can be expected. 

Although the deadline for entries was last night and the official list of competitors was not available, Namibia’s top 400m athletes can be expected to turn up.

They include Mahmad Bock who became the national 400m record holder when he broke one of Namibia’s longest standing records two years ago.

Daniel Haitembu’s previous record of 46,14 seconds was established way back in 1980, but on 30 April 2022 at the Gaborone International Meet in Botswana, Bock gave a great performance to go under 46 seconds in a new record time of 45,80 seconds.

Bock can expect tough competition from Ivan Danny Geldenhuys, who also went under 46 seconds last year with a personal best time of 45,93 seconds, and Andre Retief, who last year established a personal best time of 46,17 seconds. Retief also set a personal best time of 50,86 seconds in the 400m hurdles and is not too far off Willie Smith’s national record of 49,05 which has been standing for 23 years.

Gilbert Hainuca, who has a personal best time of 10,16 seconds in the 100m,  should start as the favourite in the men’s sprints, but he can expect tough competition from Geldenhuys and Elvis Gaseb in the 200m, while the latter could also come into contention in the 400m.

David Dam, previously of Omaruru Athletics Club, but now running for Namibia Correctional Service, and his NCS teammate Arno Angula are expected to provide a great race, while Dam also competes in the 1 500m where he should be the favourite. 

Other athletes to look out for include Daniel Paulus (5 000m), Ryan Williams (discus) and Lionel Coetzee (long jump).

Amongst the women, the top contenders for places at the Africa Games include Ndawana Haitembu in the 100m and 200m sprints; Nandi Vass, who competes in the 200m and 400m events; Frieda Iithete (long jump and triple jump); Silver Tuaine (shot put and discus); and Chrislene Klein (high jump).

The women’s 800m should also see a great contest between the youthful pair of Saara Shikongo and Tuuliki Angala. Shikongo last weekend won the junior women’s race at the national cross country championships at Eenhana, while Angala is an up-and-coming athlete from the Oshana region, but now running for NCS.

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