Kuugongelwa, Haitope Win Half Marathon Champs

Uveni Kuugongelwa and Lavinia Haitope were crowned the National Half Marathon champions on Sunday when they won the men and women’s categories of the Dr Sam Nujoma Half Marathon Championships in Windhoek.

Both athletes won the event for the first time, with both receiving N$10 000 from the anchor sponsor MTC. Kuugongelwa won the men’s race in 1:07:35, finishing well ahead of Johannes Naitembu (1:08:32) and Wendelinus Amesho (1:09:47), while Haitope won the women’s race in 1:16:48, followed by Helena Ipinge (1:20:06) and Anna Amutoko (1:20:25).

In the men’s race, Johannes Naitembu took the lead from the start while Kuugongelwa was in the second bunch along with Robert Kaxuxuena and Wendelinus Ameshu.

Kuugongelwa increased his pace at the halfway mark as he left his group behind and started closing the gap on Naitembu, and with 4km to go he caught up and overtook Naitembu to comfortably win the race.

“I’m very happy with this win, because I was training hard and have been preparing for two months,” he said.

It was the first time that Kuugongelwa had won the prestigious event which also doubled up as the National Half Marathon Championships, and underlined his steady improvement over the past year.

Last year Kuugongelwa came fourth at the same event, and four months later he came second in the Lucky Star 10km event in Swakopmund behind Johannes Skrywer.

In March this year he won the Gaberone Half Marathon in Botswana in 1 hour 7 minutes, and in the same month came second, once again behind Skrywer, in the Katutura Street Mile.

In April, he displayed his versatility on the track when he came third in the 5000m at the National Athletics Championships.

Kuugongelwa, who is a member of Golden Cheetahs Athletics Club, said he hoped to represent Namibia in the near future.

“I hope Athletics Namibia send me out of the country to represent Namibia. I want to compete at the 2015 All Africa Games.”

In the women’s race, Haitope had an even more impressive victory as she led from start to finish, to win by more than three minutes.

“I’m very happy to win this race because it’s my first time. In 2012 I came second behind a South African athlete but last year I did not compete when Helalia Johannes won it,” she said.

The 23-year-old Haitope, who won the SADC Half Marathon Championships in Lesotho last year, said she was now aiming to compete in a full marathon for the first time.

“Next year I want to do my first full marathon because my aim is to compete in the marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio,” she said.

Thomas Angula won the veteran men’s half marathon in 1:21:19, followed by Kristof Ndunga (1:21:32) and Erasmus Thomas (1:27:17).

Sieglinde Gontes won the veteran women’s half marathon in 1:50:56, followed by Denise Weidemann (1:54:44) and Yvonne Brinkmann (2:05:54).

A Shipena Junior Secondary School won the Junior Men 2x105km relay followed by ‘Flamingo 3’ and ‘Domingo Linus 2’ while Flamingo won the Junior Women 2×10,5km relay, followed by Kakadinhwa Athletics Club 4 and Kakadhinwa Athletics Club 5.

There were also relay events for Veteran men and women and Open men and women.

MTC sponsored the event to an amount of N$170 000, while Coca Cola Namibia Bottling Company was the official drink partner.

Source : The Namibian