Masters athletes’ rich haul in Pretoria

The Namibian masters athletics team, back row from left: Pieter Burger, William van Wyk, Johan Steyne. Front row: Buks Myburgh, Leonie van Rensburg, Corne Smit Harmse and Jacobus le Roux. Photo: contributed

A Namibian Masters athletics team excelled to come third overall and second in Africa at the 14th Open African Masters Athletics Track and Field Championships in Pretoria over the weekend.

Competing against 16 other countries, mainly from Africa, although there were also invitational teams from further afield, the Namibian team of seven athletes won a total of 17 medals, consisting of one gold, 12 silver and four bronze medals at the championships, which saw more than 500 athletes from 16 countries competing in age groups from 35 to 80 years.

South Africa were the overall winners, followed by Russia, which competed by invitation, and Namibia.

Namibia’s only gold medallist was Johan Steyne, who won the 110m hurdles in the men’s 35-39 year-old-category, as well as a bronze medal in the 200m.

Corne Smit Harmse won four medals in the women’s 60-64 year-old category. He won two silver medals in the javelin and discus events, and two bronze medals in the 100m hurdles and the hammer throw.

Leonie van Rensburg won two silver medals in the high jump and long jump events of the women’s 60-64 year-old age group.

Buks Myburgh won four silver medals in the men’s 65-69 year-old category in the hammer throw, javelin, discus and shot put events.

William van Wyk won three silver medals in the men’s 35-39 year-old category in the javelin, discus and hammer throw events.

Pieter Burger won a silver medal in the high jump of the men’s 45-49 year-old category, while Jacobus le Roux won a bronze medal in the discus event of the men’s 40-44 year old category.

According to Van Rensburg, who has competed at several African Masters Athletics Championships through the years, it was Namibia’s second best performance at the event since 1997 when Namibia hosted it.

“I can’t remember how many medals we won then, but we had 44 athletes competing, so I think we won a lot of medals. Since then we have had smaller teams competing due to the flight costs. In 1999, we had 11 athletes in Mauritius, and only two in 2011 in South Africa,” she says.

According to Van Rensburg, legendary masters athlete Hella Kuppe still holds the Namibian record of nine records at the African Masters Championships, while Kannetjie van As holds four records.

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