Athletics in Namibia

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Farayi Munyuki Bob Kandetu was this week discussing the development of athletics in the country after announcing the formation of an athletics club, which he hopes to mould and from which he hopes to produce other Frank Frederickses. He is convinced that this could be done in the next five years. That could be true, but might end up as a pipe dream. Whether that is possible or not, only time will tell. Frank Fredericks is an enigma and an athlete beyond comparison on the African continent. He graced many stadiums and won numerous trophies for his country. He is in a class of his own. His winning pictures still grace the walls of many Namibian homes. He so much dominated the 200-metre race that he rewrote the athletics history books. No one has ever done that on the African continent. To produce a person of his talent and feat in five or 10 years is beyond the imagination. The Americans with all the resources at their disposal have failed to produce another Johnson, the black American athlete who made Hitler not only lose his wits but demanded that the German Athletics explain how a black man in the 1930s could outstrip them in several races. This is exactly what Bob Kandetu and his friends hope to achieve in the coming decade. But can this be done with the infighting that is going on within Athletics Namibia? Just a week ago, the president of AN, Kangueehi was labelled a liar. In other words, he is regarded as a stranger to the truth. This is not the first time that such aspersions have been cast about him. A year ago, he was accused of not telling the truth by an international athletics body. This sounds like a very familiar tune to him. He was also accused of having twisted and misinterpreted the words of an official from a world body. He denied this and went round local media houses correcting what he termed an erroneous statement. Like the Ancient Mariner’s albatross, those accusations are still hanging around his neck. Like in the story of the Ancient Mariner, he must convince the general public that he is clean. Such accusations do not go well for a president of the athletics body in the country. How do other senior officials of athletics bodies in other countries think of him? What do they think of Namibia when they meet him? He is accused of impeding the development of athletics in Namibia. He stands on the doorway of athletics’ growth in the country. And Bob Kandetu without wishing to reveal names said Athletics Namibia would go a long way if it got rid of its in-fighting. None of the warring sides was willing to comment on his observations. If Namibia is to produce another Frankie Fredericks, more training is required and officials of high calibre should be roped in. It is an assiduous job to produce athletes of international standard. If Bob Kandetu and his friends in the new club think it is easy to produce another athlete of the international standard of Frank Fredericks, then shock awaits them in the near future. But it must be agreed that he has the vision and determination to succeed where others have failed. As for Athletics Namibia, the only sensible thing it could do is to render support and assistance to this new club and to welcome its existence, rather than impede its development by spiking its growth with unnecessary machinations. Can certain people remain in power by throwing spanners in the wheels of development? The time for change has come. We know that some top officials within Athletics Namibia are power hungry. They will do anything and everything to ensure that the new club fails. And that should not be allowed to happen. The problems that are presently dogging AN are not really new. We saw this happen in Kenya and it almost destroyed athletics in that country. Albert Bayi in Tanzania was forced to retire when he was still eager to represent his country at international level. Certain officials in America, a couple of years ago, were accused of picking mediocre athletes for the Olympics. Happily they all resigned. And that is seeing sense.

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