Namibian 400m athlete Tjipekapora Herunga got off to a great start at the All Africa Games on Sunday when she won her heat in a fast time of 52,61 seconds.
It was her fastest time since she set a new Namibian record of 52,36 seconds in South Africa in March, while it was also the fastest time of all the heats.
Herunga said she had a very relaxed race and was surprised by her time.
“I pushed for the first 100m but after that I took it very relaxed so I’m quite surprised by my fast time,” she said.
Herunga said she had changed her approach since competing at the World Athletics Championships in Korea last month where she finished 29th overall in a slow time of 54,08 seconds.
“At the World Champs I pushed too hard from the start so I had nothing left over the last 100m. I must learn from my mistakes, so now I have changed my approach with my coach Letu Hamhola,” she said.
Other heat winners included Margaret Etim of Nigeria in a time of 53,13 seconds and Botswana’s world champion Amantle Montsho, in a time of 53,26.
Montsho recently won gold at the World Championships in Daegu in a personal best time of 49,56 seconds.
Herunga will now compete in the semifinals and said she was feeling confident of winning a medal.
“I see myself among the top three along with Amantle and Ami MBak Thiam of Senegal,” she said.
Thiam came second behind Montsho in their heat in a time of 54,39 seconds.
All Namibia’s male sprinters meanwhile qualified for the semifinals after the first round heats on Sunday morning.
Hitjiverue Kaanjuka came second in heat 2 in 10,57; Jesse Urikhob came second in Heat 3 in 10,40 and Dantago Gurirab came third in heat 4 in 10,65 seconds.
Globine Mayova however failed to qualify for the next round after soming fourth in her heat in 11,97 seconds.
In Paralympics, Namibia’s Martin Aloysuius and Ananias Shikongo qualified for the next round of the 400m but Armas Ekandjo failed to go through.
Namibia's Paralympics team was however dealt a blow when Johanna Benson and Popyeni Sagaria could not even compete due to technical reasons. When their classification was done on Sunday it was discovered that there were too few athletes in their categories, with the result that their events were scrapped.
It was a big blow for the Namibian team as Benson is currently the African 100m, 200m and long jump champion in her category, while Sagaria won gold at the World Summer Special Olympics in Greece in the 100m.