THE athletics season got off on a good note when more than 200 athletes and coaches attended the 28th Quinton Steele Botes Coaching and Training Camp at Windhoek's Independence Stadium last week.
According to tournament organiser, Leonie van Rensburg, the camp was well attended, while there was some great talent on display.
"It was a very successful camp. We had some top coaches from South Africa, like Jonathan Greyvenstein, Charlie Strohmenger, Wimpie Nel and Roger Haitengi, who were very impressed with the talent on display. Some of them even said here's more talent than in South Africa, so now it's important that we take it to the next level," she said.
They were assisted by some of Namibia's top coaches like Henk Botha (discus and shot put), Christo Swart (long distance) and Nico Cronje (javelin), as well as the Lucky Gawanab, Sherwin Vries, FC Pieters, Karlien Botha, Antoinette Nel, Karin Swanepoel and Tangeni Nakale, who coached primary school and pre-primary school athletes.
Some of Namibia's top young athletes attended the camp, including the 16-year-old Beatrice Masilingi, who shot to fame last year when she won two gold medals at the Southern African Senior Championships in Mauritius.
Other highly rated young athletes include the 15-year-old sprinter from Otjiwarongo, Ryk Erasmus; Coena Kuhn, the 17-year-old shot put and discus specialist from Outjo; Amore Nel, a 16-year-old javelin thrower from Keetmanshoop; and Heino Keister, a 17-year-old high jumper from Keetmanshoop.
According to Van Rensburg, the Namibia National Olympic Committee was also keen to get involved in the camp.
"The NNOC was very impressed and they want to use the camp as a platform for talent identification and then to continue with these athletes, with the expert coaches here to continue to assist them," she said.
The coaching and training camp was started by the former athletics coach and administrator Quinton Steele Botes in 1993 and steadily grew over the years, with the assistance of top South African coaches, while numerous local sponsors also came on board.
Several local companies once again sponsored this year's camp, while Marathon Sugar were the main sponsors, but according to Van Rensburg, several more would like to come on board.
"More companies want to come on board and take this further. It was Quinton's dream to make it accessible to all talented athletes throughout Namibia and with their support we can reach this," she said.
The secretary general of the NNOC, Joan Smit said the camp provided the ideal platform to identify and develop Namibia's top young talents.
"This is a perfect platform where proper talent identification of elite athletes can be done, especially with the specialised coaches that we have here. There are several international youth events coming up over the next few years and we have funding available through Olympic Solidarity for talent identification, qualification and preparation, so hopefully our athletes will be motivated to work towards these goals," she said.
Some of the events coming up include the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago, the 2022 African Youth Games in Lesotho; and the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal - the first time that it will be held in Africa.
The first athletics meeting of Athletics Namibia, meanwhile, will be held on 25 January at Rietfontein's new tartan track, outside Grootfontein, with the second leg due to take place in Otjiwarongo on 22 February.
The third leg takes place in Swakopmund on 7 March and the fourth leg in Windhoek on 28 March, while the National Athletics Championships will be held in Windhoek on 4 April.