Athletics Namibia (AN) track and field secretary, Berthold Karumendu, said the last five legs of the AN Grand Prix have seen several young girls putting their hands up in the middle and long-distance events.
Since the beginning of the year, AN has held five grand prix in Rietfontein, Windhoek and Oshakati, with over 300 athletes from 30 athletics clubs competing for ranking points.
In an interview with Nampa on Friday, Karumendu said the grand prix results are used to select the best athletes for the nationals and thus far they have seen impressive performances from different athletes, but that credit should be given to the middle and long-distance runners in the female categories.
“There are three girls who have been exceptionally impressive and are the future of middle and long-distance running in Namibia if they are well looked after,” he said.
He added that Fransina Nyanyukweni and Saara Shikongo from Kakadhinwa Athletics Club are 17-years-old and won silverware for Namibia while competing in the 800 metres (m) and 1500m at the African Youth Games in Lilongwe, Malawi, in December 2022.
“The two athletes performed well in Lilongwe and elsewhere in Africa. These young athletes are supposed to be protected and nurtured for the future but here at home people wait until these athletes become big by themselves instead of the corporate world jumping on the bandwagon while they are still young to expose them to more competitions,” Karumendu said.
The track and field secretary stated that another young star making headlines on the track is Linea Iita, a 16-year-old who competes for Epupa Rapids Athletics Club, alongside Nyanyukweni.
“Iita is the youngest among these three girls and she is giving them a challenge. During our third leg in Rietfontein, Iita beat the other two and you could see that at 16 years, she has a bright future ahead as she made her debut at this event,” he said, adding that all these girls are just raw talents.
Karumendu also said that with time and enough support, Namibia will join the middle and long-distance events that are currently dominated by Ethiopians and Kenyans.
“This year we have not had so much competition in the men’s category as most of the elite athletes were called up by the correctional service for training and we respect their rules and regulations so we hope to see them when they are back from training,” he said.
Source: The Namibian Press Agency