Champion discus thrower now building and renovating homes

Wilna Bredenhann (centre) receives the Ladies Coastal Open Golf Championship trophy from Brenda Lens (left) (president of the Namibia Golf Federation) and De Villiers Nel from Hollard Namibia (sponsor). Photo: contributed

Wilna Bredenhann is one of a rare breed of versatile Namibian sportswomen who received national colours in two or more sports codes.

Having been a discus thrower of note, the Outjo-born retired star, was also an exceptional shot-putter and notable with the javelin.

Bredenhann’s dedication led to her setting the Namibian women’s national discus record at a distance of 46,42m in Cairo, Egypt, at the All-Africa Games in 1991.

Apart from shining on the athletics field as an individual, the former Police Athletics Club star excelled as a team player, receiving national colours in both hockey and golf.

A proud resident of Henties Bay since 1993, Bredenhann kicked off her athletics career while attending Outjo Secondary School.

“I don’t even remember what we played during my Outjo Primary School days because I didn’t participate in athletics. My athletics career caught fire when I went to high school. There I started competing in field items like discus, shot-put and javelin,” Bredenhann says.

“I trained very fiercely whenever I could during school time and it was back to training for me after school. I really dedicated my free time to practising and perfecting my craft.”

Bredenhann says that she is likely to be remembered as a hardworking athlete who had a great sense of self belief in her heyday, points out that she was a success-driven person who never made excuses when the competition was tough.

“I was participating in a tournament in Germany in 1991 when I broke the Namibian discus record for the first time. That same year I was competing in the All-Africa Games in Egypt and although I finished third overall, I broke the record again,” Bredenhann says.

“That same year I also went to represent my country at the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo, Japan. It was a very busy year for me but yet the turning point of what I can describe as a glittering athletics career.”

Wilna Bredenhann throws the javelin for the Police Athletic Club at the old Windhoek Stadium, now Independence Stadium. Bredenhann was a fierce competitor in the field items.

Another highlight of her career came in 1987 when she, competing under South West Africa, travelled to Bophutswana during their 10-year celebration, where she won a gold medal in the javelin throw, silver in discus and a bronze medal in the shot-put.

Bredenhann recalls the indescribable feeling when she walked out of the change room and into the stadium in Tokyo during the World Athletics Championships, to participate in front of 80 000 people, as the most memorable moment of her athletics career.

While describing her throwing style as a little bit of both power and technique, as well as speed, the former athlete could not over stress the great feeling of being part of a team as an athlete, hockey player and on the golf course.

“I never had a dull moment because when the athletics season was closed I could still compete and travel with the hockey team beyond our borders or I could still showcase my prowess with a gold club, where I also won a few competitions.”

“Doing sports is just great. You meet a lot of people and become friends and it was interesting to learn from them how they were practising their sport. As a sportsperson, you never stop learning and every little new detail you bring to your game enhances your technique for the better.”

The winner of the 2019 Coastal Open Golf Championship says that although there were approaches from South Africa, she declined them because sport that time was different from nowadays, you didn’t receive appearance money, you only participated for the love of sport,”

Bredenhann, who says that her dedication to sport was the secret behind her success, was practicing seven days a week and she worked really hard, while also embracing all the opportunities that came her way.

“For me, just to wear the Namibian colours made me very proud and to participate before a big crowd was very meaningful. I am particularly referring to the All-Africa Games and the World Athletics in Tokyo,” she says.

“To walk out under the Namibian flag in the opening ceremonies and to wave to the crowds at these two events left a long lasting legacy in my memory. It made me feel like a celebrity and I am really honoured to have represented my country.”

She clinched a respectable eighth place with the national golf team at the All-Africa Golf Championships and is the proud winner of the B-Division of the IH Hockey Championship.

Now completely retired from athletics and hockey, she is married to the well known sports personality, Philip Bredenhann, and they have two children – a daughter who is a professional golf player, and a son who is very good with horses.

Philip and Wilna Bredenhann seen on their wedding day. The couple, who are now based at Henties Bay, are proud parents of two children. 

“A normal day for me is to wake up early in the morning, go to work and after 17h00, go to golf practice or even taking the dogs for a walk. Now, that it is a very far cry from the heavy training routine I used to follow when I was still competing actively,” Bredenhann says.

“I am a building contractor and I am also into joinery. I install built-in cupboards, while I also do granite topping on walls. The contractor’s work is quite challenging but I make the best of what I get by hard work and just hope that there is enough work to make a living.”

Her biggest regret sports-wise is that she never participated in the Olympic Games, nonetheless she still feels that she could have gone further with her athletics career if there was money to make in sport, as is the case today.

During her time, the athletes arranged their own sponsors or they covered part of their costs themselves whenever they were travelling outside the country.

“We were a good group of athletes who practised together and we inspired each other to do better each day. My coach and the young athletes who looked up to me and who approached me for advice or coaching, inspired me tremendously,” she says.

“There was this one shot-putter from South Africa going by the name of Ronel White. That girl was my toughest opponent throughout my career. Today, I only help out at the schools in Henties when approached. There is nothing much going on in this coastal town.”

Bredenhann, who says that she misses the adrenaline rush before competitions the most, says she would never have imagined going into the corporate world after her athletics days, adding that she still sees some of her former teammates, especially during holidays.

She advises young athletes that nothing in today’s world comes for free.

“If you want to become successful, whether it is in sport or in life, you must work very hard to reach the top. Commitment and determination is the order of the day.”

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