Namibia’s team of Olympiads was treated to a royal reception at Namibian High Commissioner George Liswaniso’s residence in East Finchley in the north of London on Thursday evening.
About 100 Namibians living in England turned up for the event which turned into a real Namibian party after the formalities were over.
And even the formalities, for once, had significance and content, as the speakers all gave inspiring speeches for the athletes. Namibia’s history at the Games was highlighted by Liswaniso with Frank Fredericks’ great contribution to Namibia once again underlined.
Fredericks himself was there and spoke of his pride to be a Namibian.
“We are all eager to see Namibia’s flag raised with the other countries’ flags. The Namibian Olympic Committee has done its best to prepare the athletes and the athletes are ready, they will do their best,” he said.
“I am really proud to be a Namibian. When I was running it was because I got an opportunity to compete and to win for my country was always a joy for me,” he added.
He urged the athletes to do their best and to live up to the pressure building on them.
“I know we are still looking for that elusive gold medal at the Olympic Games, but you guys can make history, you can be the first ever Namibians to win a gold medal. So go out there, take the pressure on, and do your best.”
Fredericks also called on Namibians to wave Namibian flags at the stadium.
Minister of Sport Kazenambo Kazenambo gave an eloquent speech in which he praised Fredericks’ contribution and upheld the values of the Olympics.
“This team is humbled by the spirit of those who walked this journey before - amongst them is the name of Frank Fredericks, who is now not only a household name but also a brand of Namibia.”
“Our sportsmen and women are guided by humbleness, dedication, discipline and fairness when they enter the field of competition. They are not entering a war zone but a place where they can compete with others to win. This is the spirit that has guided us as a nation,” he said.
After the speeches everyone had a hearty Namibian meal (lots of beef and chicken) and then started mingling and posing for photos with the athletes.
Fredericks was a star attraction and took nearly half an hour to pose for photos with Namibian fans.
And the athletes were clearly touched by the high esteem and generosity accorded to them. They looked amazed and honoured at this send-off barely a day before the Olympic Games begin.