9 January 2013

Namibia: Brave Botes Launches Coaching Course

THE 20th edition of the Quinton Steele Botes Athletics Course and Training Camp was launched in Windhoek on Monday when more than 250 young athletes and 18 coaches turned up for the opening.

But the normal welcoming remarks were soon superseded by tributes and an emotional speech by the remarkable Botes, who has been the driving force behind the camp since its inception.

Botes, who has been battling cancer bravely over the past year, picked up a life-threatening virus during December and doctors advised him to say farewell to his family.

He however confounded medical experts through his willpower and faith in God and was once again present on Monday at an emotional gathering.

Despite having lost a lot of weight, the frail Botes was as energetic as ever and urged the young athletes to work hard to achieve their dreams.

"It is a privilege for me to be here today. Over the past two weeks my kidneys gave in and my doctor said I had better say farewell to my family. I still have a lot of work to do here, but if it's the Lord's will to take me now, it will be OK because I really don't want to suffer anymore," he said.

But Botes soon turned his attention to the young athletes and urged them to work hard to realise their dreams.

"You athletes also suffer, but remember that you won't reach the top in a rocking chair. You can live your dream if God is your dream maker. You only have one life, so work hard to realise your dreams," he said.

Botes' courageous battle against cancer has seen him building up an incredible following of more than 5 000 people on Facebook, who have been following the daily reports that his wife Bonita has been posting on his page.

Besides the thousands of goodwill messages, his cell phone is also constantly ringing with well wishers and friends wishing him luck and strength in his battle.

The veteran athletics administrator Hannes von Holtz paid tribute to Botes for his courage and faith over the past few months.

"You can't believe what Quinton has gone through. I've been following his reports on Facebook and his presence here today is proof of what dedication and faith can do. The doctors told him that medically speaking he should have been dead three times already, but he is still standing here amongst us," he said.

The athletics coaching and training course caters for junior athletes who receive specialised coaching in a number of disciplines, ranging from sprints, middle and long distance and hurdles to field events such as long and high jump, shotput, discus and javelin.

Some of South Africa's top athletics coaches like Hugo Badenhorst (high jump), Steve Rautenbach (hurdles) and Marna van der Merwe (shot put and discus) are once again participating in the camp, as well as several Namibian coaches with IAAF qualifications, like Letu Hamhola, Lucky Gawanab, Malan Kruger and Godfrey Tsowaseb.

Numerous sponsors have come on board over the years and the co-sponsors for this year's event include Wimpy, Starlite, Coca Cola, Avis, Bank Windhoek, Tyres 2000, Hyundai, Marathon Sugar, Engen and Adidas.

Through Engen's sponsorship, athletes from several orphanages are also participating for free at the camp.

The camp continues through to Friday when the athletes will be able to test their new-found knowledge and skills at an athletics competition.

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