Namibia
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Namibia running out of athletes

Sport administrator Bethold Karumendu says Namibia must urgently start with programmes to identify potential athletes to take over from the current crop.

He said this earlier this week on Desert Radio when reflecting on veteran long-distance queen Helalia Johannes winning the Rasa Region 5 Sportswoman of the Year Award in Eswatini on Saturday.

Despite still being competitive internationally, Johannes (42) is close to the end of her stellar career, Karumendu said.

Johannes is presently Namibia’s only world-class long-distance athlete, with no potential heirs in sight should she decide to call it a day, he said.

This is why it is important to heavily invest in talent identification and not rely on generational talent will coming along.

“Johannes, since taking over from retired Elizabeth Mongudhi in the 90s, has done very well in long-distance running in international competitions, such as the All Africa Games, Commonwealth Games and the World championships,” Karumendu said.

“It’s time to go back to the drawing board and identify the talent needed to take over from the veteran runners,” he said.

“At the moment we do not have any other long-distance runners of the calibre of Helalia to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

“I am not sure, given the limited time, whether we will have any new long-distance runners for the 2024 Olympic Games,” he said.

Therefore, it is practical and realistic to focus on the 2028 and 2032 Olympic Games or beyond when embarking on the talent grooming drive, he said.

Karumendu said bilateral agreements which have ceased to exist must be revitalised to form relationships with countries like Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, which are doing well on the international stage.

“It is not something that can be realised overnight. One needs to travel around extensively in the quest to truly get the needed talent that can be developed and nurtured,” he said.