INCREASED investment in our athletes will yield “greater brilliance” at international competitions, says Athletics Namibia president Frank Fredericks.
With reference to the 2012 Olympic Games, Fredericks said he felt powerless when he saw his compatriots try their best but still struggle to keep up with the leading international athletes.
Female sprinter Tjipekapora Herunga was among the shining lights at the London Games where the debutant managed to reach the semi-finals of the 200m, while Helalia Johannes finished a commendable 12th in the women’s marathon.
Fredericks believes that with improved backing, they can catch up to their better resourced rivals.
“To finish that high among the top athletes in the world is an achievement. I know how hard it is to be there,” twice double Olympic medallist Fredericks said at yesterday’s signing of a sponsorship agreement between Bank Windhoek and Athletics Namibia (AN).
“I looked on at our athletes knowing that I did not have the means to support them to get to that level.
“We need at least five hundred thousand to a million per athlete to get them to a level where we can get something. Unless we get that kind of money, we can’t get there,” he added.
Yesterday, AN received N$300 000 from Bank Windhoek towards the hosting of the annual Grand Prix Series, Senior National Track and Field Championships and the CAA SR Senior Championships.
While AN is able to host at least six competitions at national level and one on regional/zonal level annually, Fredericks said more funding is needed in order to better reward the athletes, many of whom can barely afford appropriate gear to compete at events.
“To other corporate organisations, I would like to challenge you to be part of a winning team. Athletics Namibia has shown time and again that it’s that wining team and come the 2016 Olympic Games, you will surely not be disappointed of your well placed investment in athletics,” said Fredericks.
The sponsorship agreement between Bank Windhoek and AN will be reviewed annually and adapted to the specific needs of athletics in the country.
The Grand Prix Series are scheduled as follows: First leg – December 8 in Oshakati; second leg – January 12, 2013 inWindhoek, third leg – February 2, 2013 in Swakopmund.