Namibians' European Adventure Continues

NAMIBIAN athletics stars Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi will be in action at two different meetings in Europe this weekend.

The teenage sensations made a great European debut 10 days ago when they came first and third at the Josef Odlozil Memorial in Prague, and they will now once again have the opportunity to make their mark at two high profile international meetings.

According to their coach Henk Botha, Mboma will compete in the 200m at the Meeting de Atletismo Madrid in Spain on Saturday, while Masilingi will compete in the 400m at the Janusz Kusocinski Memorial in Chorzow, Poland on Sunday.

"They are both big meetings of about the same calibre as the Prague meeting - Christine will do the 200m again, while Beatrice will do the 400m," he said.

"Our preparations have gone very well, the girls have settled in, and I'm very excited to see what will happen this weekend," he added.

Mboma will once again come up against the African champion Gina Bass from Gambia, whom she beat by a split second in Prague, and Botha said he expected a big onslaught from Bass.

"Christine will once again run against Gina Bass and I think this time Gina will come back with a vengeance after Christine won in Prague," he said.

Mboma won that race in a new personal best time of 22,67 seconds, while Bass came second in 22,76, and Masilingi third in 22,82 seconds.

Mboma's victory will give her confidence, but Bass still has the fastest personal best time of 22,58 seconds and another intriguing duel between the two Africans can be expected.

The other athletes who have entered the women's 200m in Madrid are Angela Tenorio of Ecuador who has a personal best (PB) time of 22,84 seconds, Cristina Lara of Spain with a PB of 23,22, and another Spaniard, Maria Vicente, with a PB of 23,33.

Masilingi, meanwhile, will compete in the 400m at the Janusz Kusocinski Memorial, but the entry list for that race still has to be confirmed.

She should, however, be a strong medal contender if one considers her performances so far this year.

She is the third fastest woman in the world this year after setting a personal best time of 49,53 seconds in Lusaka on 10 April.

The only athletes to have gone faster this year are Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who set a time of 49,08 seconds on 15 April, and Mboma, who set a new Namibian record of 49,22 seconds at the national championships on 22 May.

Botha and the athletes are currently staying in a small Italian town, where they have attracted a lot of interest, according to Botha.

"Tonight there will be a press conference here at the hotel where we are staying and the town is buzzing and talking quite a lot about the Namibian athletes. We are in a town called Abbadia in the Tuscany valley near Siena in Italy, and they have made us feel very welcome here," he said.

The Namibians leave for Siena today, while Mboma and their agent Bradley Agnew will leave for Madrid tonight, and Masilingi and Botha for Poland tomorrow.

"Christine and Bradley will already leave for Madrid on Thursday night with a group of athletes from South Africa, while Beatrice and I leave for Poland early on Friday. Unfortunately I can't be with Christine, but they are a big group, so I decided to go with Beatrice so that she wouldn't be alone," he said.

The Madrid meet, meanwhile, will see some other world stars in action with South Africa's Olympic champion and world record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, due to compete in the 400m, while the world's top male and female triple jumpers this year, Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso and Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela will also be in action.

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