Big shocks and upsets at Grand Prix II

Napuumue Hengari of Unam and Tuuliki Angala of NCS in action during the women’s 400m. Photo: Helge Schütz

Some big upsets were recorded at Athletics Namibia’s second Grand Prix of the season at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium on Saturday, while there were also shocks off the track with the event sponsors, the Pupkewitz Foundation, trying to prohibit Namibia’s media from taking photos at the event. 

The standout performance of the meet belonged to the 20-year-old Coenraad Kuhn of the Quinton Steele Botes Athletics Club (QSBAC), who equalled the oldest record on the Namibian record books, when he won the men’s shot put with a great throw of 17,10m. That equalled Derreck Wiggill’s longstanding record that was set nearly 55 years ago on 19 April 1969.

Kuhn’s brilliant performance was, however, soured by some heavy-handed officials who tried to prohibit Namibia’s journalists from taking photos. 

Vernon Hugo of the Pupkewitz Foundation said they had obtained exclusive rights to broadcast the event through their broadcast partner Tv2Namibia and that other media houses were not allowed on the field to take photos. The president of Athletics Namibia, Erwin Naimwhaka later deferred questions, saying that the event organiser Bethold Karumendu could answer, but Karumendu could not be reached for comment. 

The incident put a dampener on an otherwise brilliant athletics event that produced several shocks on the track. 

The men’s 400m was one of the most anticipated races with national record holder Mahmad Bock and Ivan Danny Geldenhuys starting as the favourites, but in the end the young unheralded Elton Hoeseb of QSBAC pipped them to the line to take the gold medal in a new personal best time of 46,52 seconds, which broke his previous best by more than a second. 

Bock had to settle for the silver medal with a time of 47,10 seconds, while Geldenhuys came third in 47,24. 

The women’s 400m also produced an upset as Napuumue Hengari of Unam Athletics Club beat the pre-race favourites, Nandi Vass and Tuuliki Angala to the line. 

Hengari and Angala hit the home straight neck-and-neck and after giving it their all, Hengari crossed the finishing line in a new personal best time of 57,23 seconds, with Angala coming second in 57,55 and Vass third in 58,21. 

The men and women’s sprints were, however, dominated by Gilbert Hainuca of Nust Welwitchia 77 Athletics Club and Ndawana Haitembu of Golden Cheetahs Athletics Club both doing the double.

Hainuca won the men’s 100m in 10,43 seconds, followed by Elvis Gaseb (10,63) and Hatago Murere (10,81), while Hainuca also won the 200m in 20,95, followed by Murere (21,29) and Gaseb (21,36).

Haitembu won the women’s 100m in 11,91 seconds, followed by Jade Nangula (12,30) and Johanna Ludgerus (12,51), while Haitembu also won the 200m in 23,97, with Nangula coming second in 24,64 and Ludgerus third in 25,48. 

Lionel Coetzee of Swakop Striders gave a great performance to win the men’s long jump with a distance of 8,05m, which was not far off his national record of 8,27m which he established last year. 

He finished more than a metre ahead of second-placed Abraham Nuseb (6,87m), while Andrew Kalilo came third in 6,77m.

Frieda Iithete of Namibia Correctional Service Athletics Club (NCS), was also in fine form, doing the double in the women’s long jump and triple jump events.

She won the long jump with a distance of 5,53m, followed by Meriam Kamati (5,28m) and Zezane Lewin of Unam AC (4,81m), while Iithete won the triple jump with a distance of 11,70m.

The men’s high jump produced a thrilling contest with Anana Samantu of Unam AC winning gold with a height of 2,05m, followed by Wenceslaus Klaasman (2,00m) and Benjamin Herndrikse (2,00m), while the men’s 800m was also keenly contested, with David Dam of NCS winning in 1:50,46, followed by Arno Angula (1:51,71) and Asser Nalukaku (1:53,30). 

The event was well-attended with more than 30 clubs from all over Namibia competing, while NCS was the top performing club with 126 points, followed by Unam on 104 and QSBAC on 80 points. 

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