Namibian athletes aim for the Olympics

Ryan Williams in action. File photo

Namibia’s top athletes are hard at work preparing for the new season during which a host of international events will take place.

Some of the major events coming up include the African Games in Ghana in  March, the Africa Athletics Championships in Cameroon in June, and the Paris Olympic Games in July and August. 

Christine Mboma, who won a silver medal at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, is busy preparing for the new season under the watchful eye of her coach Henk Botha who said that they she is training hard.

“Christine’s first competition will be in April and that will most probably be in Europe when she’ll be eligible to run. We are training very hard, we have also had some hard sessions in the gym, so we are excited and looking forward to the new season. She’s not at her peak yet, but she will be there in April, when she will be ready to perform,” he said at the Quinton Steele Botes training camp last week where he officiated as one of the sprinting coaches. 

Botes said there was a lot of pressure on Mboma, but seemed confident that she will qualify for the Olympics. 

“There’s a lot of pressure on myself and Christine, because everybody is expecting so much, but we can just do our best and obviously the main plan is to qualify as quickly as possible and then have a relaxed and unpressured way to prepare for the Olympics,” he said. 

The Olympic Qualifying times are quite tough, but Mboma should qualify for both the 100m and 200m sprints. The 100m qualifying time is 11,07 seconds – a mark that she comfortably beat in 2022 when she set a new Namibian record of 10,97 seconds. 

Her Namibian 200m record time of 21,78 that she set in Zurich in 2021, is also well within the Olympic qualifying time of 22,57 seconds. 

Beatrice Masilingi also has a good chance of qualifying in both events with personal best times of 11,20 and 22,18 for the 100m and 200m respectively. 

Namibian discus thrower Ryan Williams, who was also a coach at the QSB camp, said he was hopeful of qualifying for the Olympics. In April last year Williams shattered his own national record of 57,65m by more than three metres with a distance of 61,15m and although it’s still some way off the Olympic qualifying markof 67,00m, he remains hopeful of qualifying. 

“We have the Africa Games in March which is around the corner so I’m focussing on that. At the previous African Games I was 19 years old and I came fourth overall, so hopefully this year I’ll be able to get a medal,” he said.

“Then the African Championships are in June, and I’m also aiming to medal there. At last year’s championships in Mauritius I got a bronze medal and I’m hoping to get a silver or gold medal this year and I think it will serve as a very good preparation for the Olympics. The qualification standards are a bit high we have to throw 67m to qualify, but I think that if I can get close to 64,50m or 65m, I will stand a chance to go on rankings which will enable me to attend my first Olympic Games,” he added.

Andre Retief, who also attended the camp, is hoping to qualify for the Olympics in the 400m as well as the 400m hurdles. 

Last year he set personal best times in both events, with 46,17 seconds in the 400m and 50,86 seconds in the 400m hurdles, which are still a bit off the Olympic qualifying times of 45,00 seconds for the 400m and 48,70 seconds for the 400m hurdles. Retief, however, remains hopeful of qualifying in both events.

“I’m aiming to qualify for the Olympics in both the 400m and the 400m hurdles – I’m getting quite close to the qualifying times in both the events, so it’s around the corner for me. I’m hoping for good competitions this year and hopefully I’ll get my times down and qualify for the Olympics,” he said. 

Two more Namibian 400m athletes who stand a chance of qualifying for the Olympics include Mahmad Bock, who broke the Namibian 400m record with a time of 48,50 seconds in 2022 and Ivan Danny Geldenhuys, who set a personal best time of 45,93 seconds in the 400m last year. 

Chenault Coetzee, who last year broke Stefan Louw’s 15-year-old Namibian long jump record of 8,26m by 1cm, also has a good chance of reaching the Olympics qualifying distance, which is also 8,27m. 

Gilbert Hainuca, who set a personal best time of 10,16 seconds for the 100m in 2022, also has a good chance of making the Olympic 100m qualifying time of 10,00 seconds. 

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