Class of 92, where are they now?
By Michael Uugwanga
NAMIBIA’S 1992 Olympic team that represented the country at its first Summer Olympics Games in Barcelona, Spain, will always be remembered for their unprecedented remarkable achievement even though only one athlete managed to win medals at the showcase.
Confidente Sports Desk managed to catch up with some of the forgotten athletes in order to find out about their experience and what they are doing now.
The class of 1992 included flag-bearer and Namibia’s all-time greatest sprinter Frank Fredericks who won two silver medals in the 100m and 200m races.
The other athletes were legendary former World Boxing Organisation (WBO) middleweight champion Harry ‘Terminator’ Simon who went on to lose to Puerto Rico’s Anibal Acevedo 11-13; Frank Kayele who finished in 69th place with a time of 2:31.41 in the men’s marathon, and Luketz Swartbooi who failed to finish in the same marathon due to a hamstring injury.
Swimmer Monica Dahl-Böhm participated in the preliminary 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly stages. Another swimmer Jörg Lindemeier also failed to proceed in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events.
Fredericks (53) retired at the end of the 2004 outdoor season and remained the 10th best in history until recently and is today a businessman who also runs the Frank Fredericks Foundation that is aimed at promoting track and field sports amongst young Namibians.
Simon (47) is still boxing even though he is struggling to get funding towards his career as he last fought Kaminjah Ramadhan of Tanzania in 2018.
Kayele (56) is a financial advisor at Old Mutual in Tsumeb and said that he is proud to be the first Tsumeb athlete to be at the Olympic Games describing the experience at the Games as the best moment in his athletic career.
“It was a feeling which I cannot describe. I was really feeling proud, happy, blessed and very proud to be the first athlete from Tsumeb and first athlete in my family to go to the Olympic Games. It was also my only Olympic appearance. My best moment there was when I finished in 69th place in a time of 2:31.41.
“I think the Olympic Committee must try to help unemployed retired Olympians with work or provide an educational fund or to assist them with coaching courses,” said Kayele.
Swartbooi, who is to date the greatest male marathon runner to emerge out of Namibia, still holds the local marathon record of 2:11.23.
Swartbooi (54) who works as a driver at Rehoboth Town Council said that the best moment in his athletic career was when he finished 20th at the 1993 Boston marathon race.
“The Boston marathon was the best event in my career as I was up against top marathon runners. I first retired in 2009 after the Soweto Marathon in Johannesburg, South Africa, and then I went on to run again at the Bay to Bay 30km race in Cape Town,” he said.
Dhal-Böhm who retired after participating at her second Olympic Games in Atlanta is a qualified accountant who worked as a financial advisor at Pricewaterhousecoopers Namibia, before she went on to work at an international boutique investment firm and is currently working at a local private equity firm.
Reminiscing on the Olympics she said, “It was the most humbling and proudest moment of my life to walk into the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona at the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games as one of only six athletes and the only female athlete to represent Namibia at its very first ever Olympic Games. It was a very special moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
“I also participated at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and retired thereafter. I had to make a choice to either finish my studies or break these off to go overseas for a full-time sports career for another four-year cycle. In those days it was quite difficult to effectively combine education and sport on a higher level without leaving either one behind, so I chose to finish my studies and tried to find new challenges in my subsequent professional career.”
Lindemeier (52) is now based in Germany with his family and hardly swims despite being a former Olympian swimmer who attended three Olympic Games – Barcelona, Atlanta and the Sydney Games.
“It was one of the proudest moments in my sports career being able to represent Namibia at the Olympic Games, especially because it was the first time ever for Namibia to take part. I was proud to be part of a very special first time Namibian Olympic team with Frankie Fredericks and Harry Simon. After my third Olympic Games in 2000 I retired. I keep myself busy by exercising, unfortunately I hardly swim. I do not regret having spent nearly 20 years as a swimmer,” he said.