Namibian sprinting sensation Tjipekapora Herunga on Sunday delivered one of her best performances, although under trying circumstances, to claim fourth place in the highly competitive women’s 400-metre race at the European Athletics (EAA) Citta di Padova Meeting, held in Italy.
The three-time All Africa Games bronze medalist and Olympic and world championship semi-finalist, clocked a time of 52.60 seconds to take fourth place, finishing behind Italy’s Maria Chigbolu who claimed third place in a time of 52.02-seconds.
The race was won by Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games champion, Stephenie Ann Mcpherson, who took top honours in the women’s 400m race with her impressive time of 50.98 seconds. Second place went to Ukraine’s Olha Zemlyak (51.18).
In a post-race interview, an emotional Herunga said: “I’m happy to be back in Europe after a three-year absence. We hardly come to Europe, since we are based in Jamaica and that makes it very difficult for us to compete with the best here. The race was not easy, but I’m taking it one step at a time since I’m also recovering from an emotional impede.
“This has been the worst period of my whole life. I missed the African Championships that took place in Durban due to financial constrains and behind-the-scene politics and then again there is the issue of the Rio Olympics, to which I’m apparently told I didn’t qualify for, but the records prove that I did qualify. All these things are just… too much for me.”
“My emotional suffering is taking a toll on my performance on the track. Qualifying for the Rio Olympics was my goal and I worked hard to qualify, but just to be told I didn’t qualify, while I really did qualify. I’ve been away from my family and sometimes I wonder why did I go to Jamaica for three long years in the first place.
“I’ve been quiet for all this time, because I am supposed to concentrate on running and not politics, but it’s killing me. I have put in four years of hard work, sacrifices and have qualified three times for the Olympics at three different qualifying events, but my dreams are all shattered,” Herunga said.
The women’s 100-m dash saw Olympic two-time champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce winning comfortably in a time of 11.25 seconds over USA’s Jeneba Tarmoh (11.47) and compatriot Shimayra Williams (11.54).