WINDHOEK - One of the country’s medal hopefuls at the 2012 London Olympics, Beata Naigambo, completed her preparations for the global showpiece with an astonishing victory in the 3rd leg of the annual Old Mutual Victory Race series at Oshakati before jetting out to join her fellow Olympians in London.
The veteran long-distance queen used the event as a final warm-up sortie and won the 21-kilometre race comfortably in a time of 01 hour 08 minutes and 29 seconds, to finish well ahead of Lavinia Haitope and Sofia Nambabi before she takes on the real McCoy in London on Saturday.
Naigambo is no stranger to high-profile international events and has represented Namibia for over a decade where she acquitted herself well under trying circumstances. She will be making her second appearance at the Olympics following her maiden showing in Beijing in 2008.
The bad memories of her debut appearance still rings hard in her ears after she was almost disqualified for arriving late at the starting blocks as a result of administrative blunders by her handlers. Although she kept pace with the front pack – Naigambo slowed down but managed to finish 28th overall – an impressive feat for a newcomer.
She came of age the following year when she tumbled the Namibian record at the World Championships in Berlin to finish 24th overall in a time of 02:33:05 to set up a new Namibian record in the process.
Two month later, she went one better by shattering the Namibian record by a minute and half when she won the tough and demanding Eindhoven Marathon in Holland in a remarkable time of 02:31:01.
She narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi India where she finished 4th overall, but atoned for her near miss when she claimed a gold medal at the Confederation of African Athletics Southern Region (CAASR) Half Marathon in South Africa in a commendable time of 01:18:06 – slightly more than a minute ahead of Zinhle Xiniwe from South Africa.
She qualified for the London Olympics in October last year when she finished 7th at the Amsterdam Marathon in a time of 02:32:10 – comfortably within the A Qualification time of 02:37:00.
Despite the fact that she booked her ticket to London last year, Naigambo did not rest on her laurels and starting this year like a house on fire she went on to shatter two of her own records in quick succession – first on home turf during the prestigious annual Bank Windhoek Grand Prix in January where she slashed her record in the 3000 metres with more than 10 seconds.
She then tumbled the Namibian record at the Dubai Marathon where she ended 14th in a time of 02:29:20. A veteran of many international marathons, Naigambo is confident she will do much better than the last Olympics and is determined to put behind her the disappointment of the Beijing Olympics by finishing among the front-runners this time around.
“I’ll definitely do much better than Beijing where I experienced a lot of problems. Now I’m much wiser and ready to compete against the best,” said the veteran but confident long distance queen.