For the umpteenth time – despite the massive cash injection and sweet promises they made to the nation prior to their departure – the athletes that represented Namibia at the just ended Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are set to return home empty-handed.
When a jelly-legged and clearly wobbling Mynhardt Kauanivi, Namibia’s only male marathon runner at the games, finished 70th overall in the 155-athlete field during the men’s marathon, it became quite clear that the country’s athletes would again return home medal-less, as he was Namibia’s last hope.
With the other nine athletes already knocked out of the games during the first few weeks, Kauanivi was yesterday Namibia’s last athlete to compete and it was hoped he would pull off a surprise for his medal-starved country but it was not to be, as he embarrassingly struggled to keep up pace right from the onset and drifted away, finishing in a hollow 70th place.
Since Namibia’s sprint legend Frank Fredericks won his last two Olympic silver medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, the country has for the past 20 years been struggling and appears to have strategically run out of ideas on how to mould a generation of athletes that would go on and emulate the success of Fredericks.
The current crop of athletes, especially the country’s sprint and ageing long distance runners, have over the years demonstrated a serious lack of mettle and willpower to compete at the highest level – leaving many sport pundits with no option but to call for a total overhaul of the Namibian sport sector.
With the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics now a done and dusted deal, Namibia will have to wait at least another four years to hopefully make an impact at the world’s biggest sports showpiece.But with the dormancy of schools’ sport structures countrywide coupled with the constant lack of sufficient investment in athletes and sport facilities, the country appears far from winning another medal at the Olympics. The ten athletes that represented Namibia are Alina Armas, Helalia Johannes, Beata Naigambo (all marathon), Gaby Diana Ahrens (shottist), Mynhardt Kauanivi (marathon), Jonas Junias Jonas, Mathias Hamunyela (both boxers), Dan Craven, Vera Adrian, Michelle Vorster (all cyclists).