Namibia’s 400m female champion Tjipekapora Herunga

Five of Namibia’s top athletes left for Jamaica last week as part of a long term training programme with the aim of improving Namibia’s chances of winning medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Under the programme, the Namibian athletes will train with Jamaican superstars like Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell while they will also study sport management and journalism at the University of Technology of Jamaica.

The programme forms part of the Vision 2016 athletics programme implemented several years ago by the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, which has seen Namibia’s top athletes training and competing in South Africa and Europe in recent years.

The athletes that will form part of the programme are Namibia’s male and female sprint champions Hitjiverue Kaanjuka and Globine Mayova, female hurdles champion Lelanie Klaasman, 400m female champion Tjipekapora Herunga and male sprinter Dantago Gurirab.

The team was accompanied by Namibian athletics coach Letu Hamhola.

The Namibia Sport Commission held a farewell function for the athletes on Friday, where the Director of Sport Dr Vetumbuavi Veii urged the athletes to do well, saying the pressure would be on them to perform in 2016.

“The pressure will now be on you to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games. We want you to qualify and will be sending you to Jamaica for three years and we will carry the costs. This is tax payers’ money, so the nation wants to see results,” he said.

The function was attended by Professor Earle Taylor of the International University of Management who played a major role in organising the programme. The Jamaican professor said the athletes will be given every opportunity to succeed.

“You will be going to Jamaica’s premium university - the University of Technology of Jamaica which specialises in sport management. You will join world leaders who have excelled and you will train with people like Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell. You will learn their training techniques while sport journalism will be an important component of the course,” he said.

“This is a dual programme which will enable these athletes to develop their skills to contribute after their sports careers to their country’s development. We see this as the start of something bigger. You will meet our prime minister and she will also come to Namibia some time,” he added.

Professor Taylor said it would take time to reach the top.

“Jamaica has built up its reputation over time. The first time you might not win but you will be in the running. Your job is to keep reducing the seconds and you will lay the foundation for athletes in Namibia,” he said.

The chairperson of the NSC, Vivienne Katjioungua wished the athletes well.

“I know its tough and you have to make sacrifices. You will leave your parents and loved ones behind but you are representing your nation that is looking up to you.”

“In the past we just had Frankie, but now our para-athletes have showed us gold is possible. Please ensure that you leave good footprints for others who are looking up to you,” she said.

(Source: Namibia Sport)