Former athletics champion now a successful cattle farmer

Engelhardt Uiseb (front centre) was Unam’s sportsman of the year in 1993. Photo: contributed

Who says you cannot be a jack of all trades and also be a master of all? Swakopmund-born former athlete Engelhardt ‘Mini-Mastermind’ Uiseb is a living testimony that you can be a versatile sportsman, while excelling in all the different sports codes you are practicing.

In fact, nothing seemed to be impossible for the former athlete – from a prominent 400m and 800m runner, to practicing karate, to being a national welterweight boxing champion and winning a major football competition – the retired Uiseb did it all.

He first started doing athletics under the late Harry Garus-oab as a Grade 5 pupil at Arandis Primary School before he joined Ben ‘Kid’ Lentsoane’s karate club and took up boxing under former Namibia heavyweight champion Abiud Kanambunga.

Uiseb started to devote more time to athletics when he went to Dibasen Junior Secondary School, now known as Gaob Justus //Garoeb Secondary School, at Okombahe.

“I went on to complete my school career at Cornelius Goreseb Secondary School at Khorixas, where I was exposed to good runners such as Mike Claasen and Orlando Haraseb, who were formidable runners from Petrus Ganeb Secondary School at Uis. Our confrontations were famous during the former Damaraland Amateur Atletiek Sports Vereeniging events, which was a competition only for schools in Damaraland under the tribal segregation South African Apartheid laws before independence,” Uiseb says.

A four-time Confederation of Universities and Colleges Sports Association (Cucsa) Zone VI Student Games 800m champion and winner of the prestigious Castle Classic Cup with the now-defunct giant-killers Sorento Bucs in 1991, Uiseb was a true champion.

“I really worked very hard for all my successes. I was not that type of person who would go to the training ground to loaf around. I was fortunate that I had a great athletics coach like Adios Aochamub and a football manager like late Jafet ‘Disco’ Hellao,” Uiseb says.

Engelhard Uiseb (second from right in front) with giant-killers Sorento Bucs who won the Castle Classic Cup in 1991. Photo: contributed

The former sports star, who grew up between Okombahe and Uis, won his four Cucsa gold medals after winning in Zimbabwe (1992), Swaziland (1993), Botswana (1994) and Walvis Bay (1995).

“Mind you, I was never a super runner before I decided to do athletics seriously. The talent was always there but still very raw. I initially set myself a challenge that I was going to devote myself to athletics for four years only and I actually overachieved,” Uiseb says.

“I am living proof that with a strong will and hardwork, anything is possible in this world. I almost quit athletics on the day I raced against my fellow Unam students for the first time. I almost lost my interest because I finished a very disappointing seventh,” he says.

Motivation from Aochamub, whom Uiseb describes as the person with the biggest influence on his athletics career, made him change his mind.

Uiseb eventually became a prominent member of the Tertiary Institutions Sports Association of Namibia (Tisan) team that represented Namibia at the Cucsa games.

He set three new records at the three different Cucsa games in 800m, with his personal best of 1:49:00 set in 1995, which was also an events record.

“I qualified for the World University Games in Buffalo, New York, after winning my second cold in the Cucsa games in Swaziland in 1993. That was my first ever overseas trip, which also served as my quest to explore the world. Visiting America was a dream come true,” Uiseb says.

Uiseb also says he was responsible for convincing six-time Namibian sports woman of the year and 800m record holder Agnes Samaria to consider pursuing an athletics career.

“Agnes loved running, but she was initially only doing it for fun. I noticed that she was a class above her peers during informal runs on the track during the athletics season,” Uiseb says.

Engelhard Uiseb and Jacqueline Uises on their wedding day in 2020. Photo: contributed

Uiseb, who wants to be remembered as a dedicated and disciplined sportsman, married Jacqueline Uises and the couple went on early retirement to go into farming.

Uiseb fathered five children.

“I am just lucky that everything has worked out for me, exactly the way I have planned. A successful athletics career, I am a qualified registered nurse and I can proudly call myself a successful bonsmara farmer,” he says.

“I have maximised production on my farm and, although we are in a semi-dry area, water is currently not scarce because I built a human-made pit,” Uiseb says.

Also known as the first team medic of the Brave Warriors, he was recently recalled from retirement by the director of health to run the public health clinic at Uis.

Known as someone who can’t keep still, Uiseb is helping to coach his former childhood team, Imcor Chiefs.

He owns an under-13 football team, known as Uis FC, and a boxing club that goes by the name of Uis Boxing Club.

“I believe in giving back to the community of Uis that has given me so much during my younger days. Being so involved in the development of sports in the area is fulfilling. I always challenge people to go back to their place of origin and plough back.

“There is so much a retired person can do, especially in the rural areas. I am always on the lookout for new talent whether it is athletics, boxing or football and I make sure they go to the national trials of the different sports codes they represent,” he says.

The 1993 Unam sportsman of the year says he is definitely living his dream, considering where he comes from as a former teacher at Okombahe, to grazing the global athletics stages and continental football grounds with the Brave Warriors.

“Athletics can take you all over the world, keep on doing it, stay away from drugs and alcohol,” Uiseb says, advising young athletes to be serious with their talents.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News