WINDHOEK – With barely three days left before the curtain opens for the 2012 edition of the quadrennial multi-sports Olympics in London, New Era Sports takes a look at the prospects of Namibia’s nine medal hopefuls at the Summer Games.
In today’s publication, we bring our readers up close with sprinting sensation Tjipee Herunga, as the gorgeous former Windhoek High School student makes her maiden debut at the global showpiece at the fairly mature age of 24.
Following her gold medal victory at last year’s All Africa Games in the 400-metre sprint in Mozambique, the soft-spoken sprinting sensation has been in scintillating form and currently holds the Namibian 400-metre record with an astonishing time of 52.4-6 seconds.
After being laid low by an assortment of niggling injuries in the last couple of seasons, Herunga returned to competitive action at the popular South African Provincial Yellow Pages Athletics Series, where she won several races against high-profile opponents.
She also tumbled the old Namibian record in the 200 metres with an excellent time of 23.7-3 seconds in Durban in 2010 and went one better the following season – winning three races and in the process also breaking her previous record in the 400-metre sprint in a time of 52.3-1 seconds – leaving the highly-rated Caster Semenya licking her wounds adrift in 2nd place.
However, her fairytale rise came to an abrupt halt when she failed to impress at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, Korea where she finished a dismal 29th overall in the heats.
However, this time around Herunga and her coach Letu Hamhola spared no effort to get her properly tuned up for the Olympics and the lanky athlete did not disappoint and eventually snatched an Olympics berth with a time of 51.8-5 seconds – the first time in her athletics career that she has clocked under the 52-seconds barrier.
As if that was not enough, the golden girl of Namibian athletics surprised friend and foe alike when she shattered her own record in the 400-metre sprint – clocking 51.24, which is a far cry from the Olympics qualifying time of 51.5-5 seconds.
Now, all eyes will be fixed on the young Tjipee after she swept aside a strong field of world-class sprinters to clinch the 400 metres at the recently concluded Welsh Athletics International Meet, to wrap up her preparation in style ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.