The Namibian athletics team that participated at the South African Yellow Pages Athletics Series returned home on Thursday having broken three Namibian records and achieving eight new personal best times.
The manager of the team of 12 athletes, Agnes Samaria, said that the athletes throughout the series had achieved a combined total of 22 first place finishes.
“Looking at the results I can say I am very pleased that we came back with a lot of personal bests (PB) and it was also great that they were able to go and participate at that level and grow as athletes,” Samaria said.
“The competition in South Africa was needed because there is a lot of talent there that we can compete against and it also gave our athletes the opportunity to qualify for the All Africa Games (AAG), the Olympics and the World Championships.
Tjipekapora Herunga (400m), Daniel Nghipandulwa (800m) and Globine Mayova (100m) through their performance in the series qualified for the AAG.
“We might still get more athletes to qualify for the AAG because we will soon have the Junior Southern Africa Championships in Windhoek where they will have opportunities to qualify and the Senior Southern African Championships in Mozambique,” Samaria said.
“With good training and preparation, the athletes that have already qualified can really aim for medals. I know Daniel and Tjipe have done a lot of work to be where they are now, I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them but I will be really delighted if they brought back medals.”
All the athletes however missed out on qualifying for the World Championships, which are due to, be held in Deagu, South Korea later this year.
Herunga and Nghipandulwa came the closest to qualifying when they set new Namibian records in the 400m and 800m respectively. Herunga ran 52.32 in the 400m and she needs 52.30 to qualify and Nghipandulwa ran 1:46.62 and needs 1:46.30 to qualify.
The deputy Minister of Sports, Youth, National Service and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta said that he was impressed by the team’s achievements in South Africa.
“Their performance at the Yellow Pages Series was very impressive now we need to improve on it so that we can be competitive on the world stage,” Shifeta said.
“I was very impressed when Herunga beat the world champion and I know that if we put more funds into the sport there will be more of that from our athletes,” he added.
One of the highlights of the Series was when Herunga beat the world 800m champions, Caster Semenya in the 400m final.
Along with Samaria, the athletes travelled with Letu Hamhola as the coach, Julia Halwendo as their medic and Benny Obermuller as the team masseuse.