There were no medals but Namibia’s athletes at the Summer Olympic Games gave their all and did their country proud.
Competing against the best in the world, they held their own and achieved some personal milestones in the process.
As Minister of Sport Kazenambo Kazenambo summed it up afterwards, now is the time to evaluate Namibia’s performances while learning from the victors.
“Ours is a learning curve in all respects. We competed against the best, if you look at the Russian wrestler who beat Sem Shilimela and became the Olympic champion, or the shooter who beat Gaby Ahrens that broke the world record. To compete against the best in the world put’s us in a good pack, and now we need to work on it, to improve,” he said.
“We must not despair, but we must learn the winners’ tactics and try to emulate them in what they are doing. We must have a positive and embracing attitude... If your attitude is negative, then one cannot evaluate yourself properly,” he added.
Kazenambo called for introspection and self criticism.
“We must be open to criticism and if necessary we must put our house in order. One can accept criticism if you are open minded and want to learn. After an evaluation we must ask - are we giving our coaches enough time to prepare, are we as a nation behind our athletes and so on. We should not personalise issues because we are here as a nation,” he said.
Kazenambo said experience and preparation played a big role in making athletes successful.
“It’s all about preparation and experience, for instance, take a look at how experienced the Russian wrestler was. Russia is not a small country and their wrestler went on to win the gold medal. The exposure, preparation and environment plays a big role, and more emphasis must be placed on preparation,” he said.
The importance of government funding and support from the private sector was also aptly demonstrated by the large amounts that the leading nations spent on their preparations. Great Britain, who came third on the medals table behind the United States and China, invested about 100 million Pounds per year in their Olympics preparation, while the UK government has pledged an investment of 125 million pounds per year to prepare for Rio 2016.
Namibia’s athletes, by contrast, received N$400 000 from the FNB Foundation and some more funds from the Government, but it was a drop in the ocean compared to that of Great Britain and the other leading nations.
The level of competition was extremely high with several world records being set in athletics and swimming alone. Namibia’s young athletes like 23-year-old Tjipe Herunga and 21-year-old Sem Shilimela competed against the best in the world, and the experience gained will come to good stead in future.
Marc Bassingthwaighte achieved his goal of a Top 30 finish in the Men’s Mountain Bike, while Helalia Johannes smashed the Namibian record by more than a minute to come 12th in the Women’s Marathon.
In boxing, Mujandjae Kasuto won his first fight before losing in the second round, while Jonas Matheus lost his first round fight.
Beata Naigambo came 38th in the women’s marathon, Gaby Ahrens came 22nd in the Women’s Olympic Trap and Dan Craven was unfortunate to crash out of the Men’s Cycling Road Race.