The post-Fredericks slump
After more than a decade of Frank Fredericks? exceptional achievements at the highest level of international athletics, Namibian athletics had little to show by way of success in 2005.
Fredericks retired in September 2004 to end an exceptional career, which included four Olympic silver medals and one World Championship gold, amongst a host of other achievements. But his retirement just illustrated what an exceptional athlete he was and how far behind his compatriots are lagging.
In 2005 Agnes Samaria was the only Namibian to compete against the world?s best on the IAAF Grand Prix circuit and at the World Championships in Helsinki, but after a promising start to the indoor season, she struggled later in the year and bowed out it the semi-finals at Helsinki.
On the local scene, Namibia?s 38-year-old marathon runner Luketz Swartbooi had a great season. He came fourth in the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, and dominated marathon running in Namibia.
Besides that, a few talented juniors made their mark in junior meets in the SADC Region.
As the talent dried up on the international front, the administration of athletics in Namibia deteriorated markedly. In September, athletics? main sponsor Bank Windhoek announced the termination of a five-year N$2 million sponsorship deal with Athletics Namibia (AN).
This followed shortly after the chief administrator of the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC), Rusten Mogane, announced that they would launch an investigation into the affairs of AN. Some of the accusations levelled at AN was that they had acted against their own constitution as well as that of the NSC; had sent a junior national team abroad without a coach, and had changed the composition of a national team after it had been approved by the NSC.
The report has yet to be made public, but further setbacks hit the code in the interim. The long-running saga between AN president Alpha Kangueehi and Khomas Region chairman and AN anti-doping official Quinton Steele Botes came to a head when Botes announced his resignation from AN in September.
The spat turned farcical when Kangueehi said that he had not received Botes? resignation and therefore fired him, declaring that Botes? involvement in AN?s affairs had come to an end.
The year petered out with a public slanging match between the two, and a success-starved Namibian public awaiting the findings of the NSC report.
Some of the most notable achievements of the year were as follows:
Samaria breaks 1 000m record
Agnes Samaria completed a successful indoor season in Europe by establishing a new Namibian 1 000m record on February 18.
Samaria came second behind Britain?s Kelly Holmes at an indoor athletics meeting in Birmingham, England. Holmes won the race in 2:35:39, followed by Samaria in a new Namibian record time of 2:36:91.
Samaria competed in five races, and besides her 1 000m record, she also broke her 800m national record on two occasions. She first set a time of 2:00:15 in Stuttgart and then improved upon it with a time of 1:59:91 in Stockholm, Sweden. Samaria won the race in Stuttgart, came second once, third twice and sixth once.
Swartbooi fourth at Two Oceans
Veteran Namibian marathon athlete Luketz Swartbooi came fourth in the 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town on March 26 in a time of 3:11:37.
Swartbooi was in the leading pack from the start till about 2km before the end when Marco Mambo of Zimbabwe pulled away to win his second successive title.
Namibia?s Willem Rooi was the first Namibian in the 21km event, coming 13th in 1:06.
Namibians excel at Southern African Athletics Meets
Namibian athletes that competed in a Grand Prix Permit meeting in Botswana three gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
The three gold medal winners for Namibia were, Victoria Tjingaete (100m), Benedictus Botha (100m) and Frank Puriza (200m).
At the Grand Prix meet in Harare, Zimbabwe, the Namibian team won seven medals, including two gold.
Benedictus Botha once again triumphed in the 100m to take gold while the Namibian 4x100m men?s relay team also came away from the meet with gold.
At the Windhoek leg of the Southern Region Athletics Grand Prix Series held in Windhoek, the Namibia team collected 34 medals, including eleven gold.
Rukero shines at Botswana athletics champs
Junior female sprinter Uakunua Rukero, won a gold medal in the 100m at the national athletics championships of Botswana, in Gaborone, in May.
Rukero also won the bronze medal in the 200m.
These performances come after her silver medal performance at the Pan-African Athletics meet in Mauritius in May.
The only other gold medal won by the Namibian team was in the 4x100 m, where the team of Benedictus Botha, Frank Puriza, Richard Wolman and Hitjivirue Kaanjuka outsprinted a strong field.
Swartbooi on a roll
Luketz Swartbooi outran a field of 900 runners to win the Fast and Flat 10 km race against AIDS in South Africa in a time of 29:03.
At the same race, another Namibian long-distance athlete, Matthew Hoeb, came third in the 10 km walk.
A fortnight later Swartbooi won the Bank Windhoek Half Marathon Championships in Swakopmund in 1:04:36 to record his fifth victory in the event.
Beata Naigambo won the women?s event in 1:09:50.
Thomas, Johannes win 15km Champs
David Thomas won the men?s race in a time of 48 minutes and 49 seconds, at the PriceWaterhouseCoopers 15km National Championships in Windhoek at the end of July.
Hillaria Johannes was crowned women?s champion with a time of 57:33 and in the process also bettered the 2004 winning time by almost three minutes. Defending champion, Beata Naigambo, finished more than a minute behind Johannes in a time of 58:42.
Luketz Swartbooi beat Reinhold Iita in dramatic fashion to win the Old Mutual 21kmVictory Races series.
Swartbooi won the first leg in Oshakati in a time of 1:03:00. Iita missed the first leg due to a cold, but won the next two legs in Keetmanshoop and Windhoek with respective times of 1:07 and 1:06. Swartbooi followed closesly behind in both legs and won the overall prize due to his faster average over two races.
A new champion emerged among the senior women when 21-year-old Hilaria Johannes won the overall title. She won all three the legs, setting a new personal best time of 1:16:36 in Oshakati.
Swartbooi second in Soweto Marathon
Namibian veteran marathon runner Luketz Swartbooi came second in the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon on November 6.
Swartbooi completed the 42km event in 2 hours 20 minutes and 47 seconds, which was only 32 seconds behind the winner, Tsotang Maene of Lesotho, who won in 2:20:15. Moses Mjodzi of Zimbabwe came third in 2:21:13.
In the women?s marathon, Namibia?s veteran Elizabeth Mongudhi came seventh in a time of 3:05:25.