Without mincing his words, Namibian sprint legend Frank Fredericks yesterday again reminded fellow countrymen about the basic modus operandi of modern sport: don’t expect any medals if you didn’t invest in your athletes.
Speaking to Namibia’s media representative in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he is attending the Olympic Games, Fredericks said he was not actually surprised by the lackluster performance of Namibian athletes at the ongoing global sports showpiece, as most athletes qualified for the games a bit late.
“To be quite honest, I’m not really surprised by the performance of our athletes, as most qualified late for Rio 2016, while others might have not received adequate preparations to compete at this level. You can’t expect any medals from athletes who qualified in the year of the Olympics,” said the sprint icon.
Fredericks advised government to invest more in athletes and to make sure they are properly prepared well ahead of international events, such as the Olympics and others.
“We need to prepare for the next Olympics, which are four years from now. We all have to come together as administrators and see what we can do. Maybe we should invest more money and hope that we win medals at the next Olympics,” Fredericks said.
Unfortunately Fredericks’ advice comes at a time when the sport ministry tried and dismally failed with the fruitless Vision 2016 Athletics Programme, a project that was aimed at preparing athletes well ahead of this year’s Olympics by sending them to Jamaica to train and further strengthen their mettle to win medals for Namibia at Rio 2016, but it was not to be.
The Vision 2016 Athletics Programme was initiated in 2013. None of the 10 athletes sent to Jamaica under the Vision 2016 Athletics programme managed to qualify for this year’s Olympics, despite being granted a golden opportunity to learn and train with the world’s fastest runners, like Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Asafa Powell, amongst other top Jamaican athletes.
During his heyday, Fredericks said he would work hard to qualify well in advance and that enabled him to go into the Olympic Games well prepared and also boosted his chances of winning medals. Fredericks is Namibia’s most decorated Olympian, with four silver medals from the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. He won two silvers in 100m and two in the 200m events.
Overall, he is satisfied with the quality of this year’s Olympics, which he is attending as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Asked about athletes who have far impressed him at the games, he was quick to note that American swimmer Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Wayde van Niekerk have all impressed him.
Phelps won five gold medals and one silver this year, bringing his total to 28 medals, with 23 of them gold, since his first bronze medal in 2004. He also noted that Jamaican sprinter Bolt has done well again by scooping the 100m gold, and he is looking forward to Bolt’s 200m race today.
South Africa’s 400m gold medalist, Wayde van Niekerk, also made a strong impression on Fredericks. He noted that Africa would continue to do better and earn more medals, saying continental athletes always do well in the track and field events. – Additional info: Nampacountry is to win any medals in future.