WINDHOEK, 19 APR – Commonwealth Games gold medallist Helalia Johannes was on Thursday promoted as a token of appreciation from the Namibian Defence Force (NDF).
The marathon runner was promoted from corporal to Warrant Officer Class Two with effect from Thursday.
This means she jumped the rank of Sergeant and that of Staff Sergeant.
Speaking at the announcement of her promotion, Defence Minister Penda Ya Ndakolo said winning a gold medal at an event of this magnitude is a source of national pride and a way for athletes to put Namibia on the world map.
“Her history is testimony that persistence pays off,” the minister said.
Ya Ndakolo went on to encourage sport in the NDF, saying it is healthy and keeps the body and mind in shape.
He expressed his disappointment in athletes in the NDF who abandon sport because they are sometimes overlooked for promotion as they are away for sports activities.
“We need to change that practice and encourage our members to take part in sport at all levels,” he said.
Johannes represented Namibia at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In 2012 she represented the country at the London Olympics and on Sunday, she won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
She has also won bronze medals at the Military World Games and the All Africa Games.
An emotional Johannes told Nampa she was surprised by her victory, considering the fact that she was competing against Australians who had the home ground advantage and Kenyan runners, who tend to perform well in marathons.
“I however attribute my success to the dedication, focus and discipline I gained from the NDF,” she said.
Johannes promised to keep working hard to win more medals to reward Namibians and the NDF for their faith in her.