HELALIA Johannes started 2020 where she left off last year with yet another victory in a record time at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in Japan on Sunday.
Competing in a field of close to 10 000 athletes, Johannes won the women's race in a brilliant time of one hour, eight minutes and 10 seconds, which smashed her own Namibian record by nearly two minutes.
Her previous Namibian record of 1:09:58 was set at the Old Mutual Victory Races in Swakopmund seven years ago, while the closest she came to that mark in recent years was when she won the Two Oceans Half Marathon last year in 1:10:30.
On Sunday she was in a class of her own as she took the lead from the start and timed her race to perfection.
By the 10km mark only Mao Ichiyama of Japan had managed to remain with her at the front, while Charlotte Purdue of Great Britain was leading the second bunch of athletes nearly 30 seconds behind.
Johannes maintained her tremendous pace and by the half way mark started pulling away from Ichiyama. After 15km she was leading by eight seconds and pulled further away to complete a comfortable victory.
Ichiyama couldn't maintain the pace and eventually finished fifth, while Purdue finished second in 1:08:23 and Choi Kyungsun of South Korea third in 1:08:35.
The president of Athletics Namibia, Erwin Naimwhaka, expressed delight with her performance, saying it bodes well for the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year.
"Helalia is our only qualifier for the Olympics so far. We are excited by the form she has shown in this race and we are confident that her team has a good preparation programme leading up to the Olympics," he said.
Johannes qualified for the Olympic Games after some great performances last year.
On 10 March she smashed her own Namibian marathon record by more than three minutes when she won the Nagoya Marathon in Japan in a time of 2:22:25.
On 28 September she came third at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, and although her time of 2:34:15 was well below her national record, it was the first time that a Namibian female athlete had won a medal at the World Championships, and only the third time ever after Frank Fredericks and Luketz Swartbooi.
Johannes also excelled over shorter distances last year, winning the Two Oceans Half Marathon in a course record time of 1:10:29 in April, and then going on a record spree in the 10km Spar Women's Grand Prix series in South Africa.
On 5 May she won the first leg of the series in Port Elizabeth in a Namibian record time of 31:50 and three weeks later she improved that mark by five seconds when she won the second leg in Cape Town.
On 23 June she smashed that mark when she won the third leg in Durban in an African record time of 30:59, while she won the final two legs of the series in Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg with respective times of 32:23 and 33:16.