WINDHOEK, 17 APR – Athletics Namibia (AN) has congratulated marathon runner Helalia Johannes for winning a gold medal at the just-ended Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Speaking in Windhoek at the launch of the 28th edition of the Senior Track and Field National Championships set for the Independence Stadium on Friday and Saturday, AN President Erwin Naimhwaka said the athlete had done Namibia proud.
“Winning a gold medal at the age of 37 shows you how committed she was. It also shows how much exposure one needs before winning championships,” he said.
Naimhwaka said Johannes’s victory also proves that her selection over the years to participate in international games was justified, as long distance athletes reach their peak between 35 and 45 years old.
“I first came across her in 2004 when she participated locally before going to South Africa, and then internationally. She then participated in various major competitions before striking gold,” he explained.
Johannes ended fifth overall at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Naimhwaka said Johannes’s experience was evidenced at this year’s Commonwealth Games by her controlled running.
He further said Namibia had other, younger marathon runners currently gaining experience, such as Lavinia Haitope who finished sixth at the games.
The AN leader however bemoaned lack of resources to train the huge talent in the country, saying AN will not even be able to reward the gold medallist.
Berthold Karumendu, a seasoned long distance running coach, at the same event said it takes a minimum of 10 years of extensive training for athletes to become internationally competitive.
“In those 10 years, athletes must compete at the highest levels so as to gain experience,” he said.
Johannes and the rest of Namibia’s team for the Commonwealth Games are expected to arrive in Namibia at 10h40 on Wednesday.
One other gold was won by boxer Jonas Junius Jonas.