Frans blazing the track

• By Michael Uugwanga

NYANYUKWENI Frans is developing into one of the country’s top long distance runners despite her being only 16 years of age.

Frans who only started running this year is already a national champion in the 1 500m after winning the crown at the Namibia Schools Sport Union (NSSU) a fortnight ago in Windhoek, in a time of 4.53.70.

As a result, she was selected to represent the country at the Gaborone International Meet in Botswana on April 30, which saw her finishing in fifth place with a time of 4.43.52 which is also her personal best.

Ironically, despite having running spikes she prefers to run without them, saying that she is still learning to run with shoes on.

A pupil at Okeendapa Combined School in Omusati region, Frans is registered with Epupa Athletics Club, and looks up to Olympic athletes Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi.

Since the start of her athletics career this year, Frans has already won numerous races – the 800m and 1 500m in February; 1 500m, 800m and 400m races at the regional zone in Oshakati in March and was first in the 1 500m at the grand prix leg five also in March.

“So far I am enjoying running even though in the beginning I never wanted to run. At times I would hide as I was afraid to run. At the nationals in Windhoek I did not expect to win because I was competing against some top athletes,” she said adding:

“I learnt a lot in Botswana, especially the way the people behaved there was so good.”

Her coach Kristof Shaanika recalled when he used to go after Frans as she used to run away from school athletic events.

Shaanika, a renowned athlete in his own right, is a teacher at Okeendapa Combined School and was a long distance runner in the 800 m and 1 500m.

“I can tell you that this kid used to run away whenever its athletics time. She would go into the bushes to hide herself. 

“The kid is talented and she was not aware of that. She did well in Botswana since it was her first race outside the country,” said Shaanika.