26 February 2013

Namibia: 'One of the Best Ever'

SPEED MERCHANT ... Hitjiverue Kaanjuka won the sprint double at the Bank Windhoek National Athletics Championships over the weekend.

ATHLETICS Namibia president Frank Fredericks described last weekend's Bank Windhoek National Track and Field Championships as one of the best since Namibia's independence.

"It was probably one of the best ever national championships that we have had. The athletes have realised that it's critical to try and qualify earlier rather than later for major events like the world championships, and I am really happy that they came to the show," he said.

Globine Mayova stole the show by equalling her 200m national record of 23,39 seconds, while there were also fine performances by Hitjiverue Kaanjuka, Daniel Nghipandulwa, Charlene Engelbrecht and Ernst Narib.

Mayova and Kaanjuka came the closest to qualifying for the World Championships, which take place in Moscow in August, with both athletes just 0,09 seconds outside the qualifying times.

Mayova's 200m time of 23,39 was just outside the B qualifying time of 23,30, while Kaanjuka won the men's 200m in a new personal best of 20,69, which is also close to the B qualifying time of 20,60.

None of the other athletes came close to the World Championships qualifying times although they can still try and qualify at future international events. Fredericks however said that it was the prerogative of their coaches to enter them for international events while Athletics Namibia could only try and assist.

"Athletics Namibia just concentrates on our National Championships and the World Championships. The athletes' coaches must submit their plans to Athletics Namibia, to see if we can help them in any way. We don't have money but we can try and help them," he said.

Fredericks added that Namibia had received an invitation to compete at an international event in Mauritius, but that other events in South Africa or Europe had to be organised by the athletes' coaches.

So far three Namibian athletes - marathon runners Helalia Johannes and Beata Naigambo, and 400m athlete Tjipekapora Herunga - have qualified for the World Championships, based on their times at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Herunga reached the World Championships B qualifying time of 52,35 when she ran 52,31 in her first round heat in London. Herunga was well short of that over the weekend with a best time of 53,32 in the heats, but she just recently started training after joining the Namibian Police and with more international competition could come close to her national record of 51,24.

Both Johannes and Naigambo easily beat the marathon qualifying time of 2:43:00 in London, with Johannes coming 12th in a new Namibian record of 2:26:09, while Naigambo came 38th in 2:31:16.

Since then both athletes have again broken the qualifying time, with Naigambo coming ninth at the Dubai Marathon in January in a personal best time of 2:27:54, while Johannes came sixth at the Tokyo Marathon last Sunday in 2:29:20.

Another Namibian marathon runner, Alina Armas, broke the qualifying time when she won the Rössing Marathon in 2:35:53 on February 16, but according to Fredericks, the course at Swakopmund still needs to be verified by the International Association of Athletics Federations before it can be accepted.

"Only certain marathons in the world are recognised by the IAAF, because marathons need to adhere to certain criteria as determined by the IAAF. We will have to explain the course and the IAAF needs to verify it before it can be accepted," he said.

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