Windhoek-All five long distance athletes who represented Namibia at the just ended IAAF World Championships were previous winners of the annual Rössing Marathon National Championship.
The likes of Paulus Iiyambo and Helalia Johannes (2017 marathon), Lavinia Haitope (2017 10 km run), Reonard Namupala (2016 marathon) and Beata Naigambo (2016 10 km run) have claimed first podium spots in recent years while coach Robert Kaxuxuena has also won the Rössing Marathon in 2003.
As part of Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium Mine’s efforts to pro-actively promote healthy, safe and environmentally-responsible lifestyles among its stakeholders, the Rössing Marathon Development Bonus, worth N$40,000, was handed to incumbent national champions Iyambo and Johannes during a special handing over ceremony in Windhoek recently.
The bonus was introduced in 2011, with an amount of N$280,000 over and above the general prize money at stake, that has contributed towards the career development of long-distance runners in the country ever since.
During the handover ceremony, before the athletes jetted off to the IAAF World Championships in London, Rössing company secretary Glynis Labuschagne applauded the pair, wishing them good luck for the rest of the year.
“Funding through the bonus is meant to support the careers of the two Rössing Marathon winners during the year of their reign as national champions. This support is aimed at helping develop local sporting talent while assisting in their preparations for competitions elsewhere.”
She expressed the hope that the gesture will give the two champions an ideal platform from which they could launch further successful participation in future events.
“We are going to eagerly follow their performances throughout the rest of the year,” she added.
Both runners did well in London last weekend, where Johannes finished 19th overall in the women’s category while Iiyambo ended in 37th place in the men’s division.
The two recipients expressed their gratitude for the support from the mine. “One of the benefits of the development bonus is that it puts us in a position to acquire special exercise and competition gear,” said Iiyambo.
“Nowadays, running gear is scientifically made to add support and make exercise and competition more comfortable. For example, running tights and vests that allow your body to stay cool while you run; special sport bras for the ladies; and sports watches that help track your heart rate.”
He said he appreciates that the sponsorship allows him access to otherwise hard-to-afford supplements to replace lost nutrients in his body.
“In marathon running, it’s very helpful for us to stay healthy and recover faster for the next event.”
Johannes said being competitive is all about the health of the body.
“We start training for a marathon at least four months ahead of the event, with the focus on the first two months primarily on endurance, while speed is added to endurance for the final two.
“With a rigorous training programme such as this, one needs new training shoes every two to three months, and competition shoes for every race or else we risk serious injury by using shoes with inadequate support for our bodies.”
A pair of good running shoes can easily cost up to N$3,000. Rössing’s development bonus enables long distance athletes to obtain the appropriate gear to help keep them injury-free and perform at their level best.