Gymnastics regaining balance

Namibian gymnasts are finally allowed back into the international arena. Photo: Sheefeni Nikodemus

The Namibia Gymnastics Federation claims to have gotten over years of infighting which will see a return to international competition for the country’s athletes who were in limbo.

A team of seven gymnasts will be in action at the African Gymnastics Championships in Kigali, Rwanda, on 25 and 26 April, marking the start a series of competitions where Namibia will be present.

Further Paris 2024 Olympic continental qualification events will take place in Morocco and Tunisia in May.

“As you are aware, the Namibian Gymnastics Federation (NGF) had endured considerable setbacks during the past five years, ranging from local court cases right up the suspension by the International Gymnastics Federation,” says NGF vice president Monica Böhm.

“The federation was left in total destruction due to unresolved personal matters and internal conflicts being taken directly to Namibia’s court rooms and unfortunately also into the international federation affairs.”

An intervention by the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) aided the country’s readmission to the international fold, she adds.

“As a general message to the public, there can only be one declaration on this: sport does not belong in court and egos are best left at the door.”

The team for Kigali consists of Dayla Duchaine, Peya Kashaka, Faiza Hamutenya, Emilia Ekandjo, Joy-Lana Kabooy, Kenandjo Mupia and Ngatangue Hambek, who will showcase their talent in rhythmic section.

They will be accompanied by coaches and officials Eleonora Karamfilova and Wietsa Snyman.

The artistic team will look to secure Olympic qualification in Marrakech, Morocco, from 3 to 5 May.

In the senior women’s team are Anne-Leen Thorburn, Jonie Thorburn and Sureshni Andrew, with Immanuel Kooper the only competitor in the men’s section. They will be under the guidance of Petra Thorburn (women) and Morihei Anderson (men).

Namibia will send juniors Jessica Blaauw and Hannah Dunaiski to Bizerte, Tunisia, to compete in the trampoline discipline qualifiers on 10 and 11 May.

Seniors Noa Lofty-Eaten and Carané van Zyl, plus coach Vesselin Kostin and official Tanja Blaauw, complete the team.

“We would like to specifically mention that the NNOC is supporting our three African Championships teams with a total grant value of N$600 000, which is applied towards the travel and accommodation costs of these three teams, and we would as such again like to formally express our sincere appreciation and gratitude towards the NNOC for this so generous contribution,” says Böhm.

“We look forward to successfully re-establish Namibia within the international gymnastics arena and wish our gymnasts the best of luck for the upcoming African Championships.”

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