A Nation Mourns a Sports Icon

Condolences from local sports personalities and high-profile officials yesterday poured in like waves from the Atlantic Ocean following the death of local athletics guru, Quinton Steele-Botes, who died on Monday night at the age of 54 after losing a long battle with cancer.

In September 2007, Botes was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that causes the collection of abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow, where they interfere with the production of normal blood cells, leading to kidney failure.

Those in the know are all in unison that Namibia has not only lost an athletics icon but a true son of the soil who sacrificed a lot in his unwavering desire to fight for the betterment of fellow citizens.

The humorous Botes, or rather “Boertjie” among his vast circle of friends, took ill after he was diagnosed with the deadly ailment but never wavered. He defied medical experts who at some stage gave him a matter of a few hours to blow his last breath to be reunited with his ancestors, but Boertjie would have none of that and persevered against all odds.

A jack of all trades, his dedication to local athletics and administrative acumen earned him international recognition, which saw him being honoured by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as a coaching lecturer.

“His invaluable input in sports, notably athletics will be solely missed,” says longtime colleague and Namibia’s athletic guru, Oom Hannes von Holtz, adding: “Gone too soon but it will be against conventional wisdom not to appreciate and celebrate the time we spent with him. In his somewhat abbreviated life battling a life-threatening illness, Quinton has achieved so much that it will be very difficult to emulate.”

Athletics Namibia (AN) president, Alna Similo, couldn’t contain his grief when contacted yesterday, saying Namibia and the whole of Africa has lost an athletics giant and it will take some time for the athletics fraternity to fill the void left by Botes.

Similo added that upon her election as AN president, Botes was one of those who guided and aised her on how to go about her daily functions and was very instrumental in sourcing funds for the union.

Botes was the brainchild behind the tremendous growth of the annual Old Mutual Victory Race Series, one of the biggest road running events on the Namibian sports calendar. Old Mutual Namibia joined hundreds of mourners in paying their last respects to Botes.

“Quinton was an unwavering partner of the Victory Race Series as race director and almost singlehandedly made sure the race would reach all communities across the country, offering them that rare amusement and sense of achievement that sports can bring to people,” reads a statement from Old Mutual.

Botes received numerous national and international awards for his tireless work in the discipline of track and field. These include an award for sporting excellence from the International Olympic Committee in 2003 in recognition of his promotion of athletics in Namibia.

As technical manager of the Namibian Olympic Team, he attended two Olympic Games, three World Games, one African Games and two Commonwealth Games. He resigned from Athletics Namibia in 2005.

Source : New Era