Grandma speaks on Masilingi success

By Michael Uugwanga

GRANDMOTHER of sprint sensation Beatrice Masilingi has revealed how her granddaughter ran without shoes for 10 years until 2018, when she bought her plastic shoes to wear at the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5, a tournament where Masilingi underperformed and failed to win a single medal.
These first running shoes were bought by Elizabeth Kamwi from a former teacher at Masilingi’s previous school Noordgrens Secondary School in Rundu in the Kavango East region.
Kamwi said she bought the shoes for N$700. Masilingi went on to run with her plastic shoes at the regional championships held at the Rundu Sports Stadium in March 2019, the same year she caught the eyes of her current coach Henk Botha and the Namibia school sport union (NSSU) national coordinator, Solly Duiker.
Kamwi has been with Masilingi since the day she was born to her mother, Anna Masilingi. The grandmother now 67 currently works as a vendor in Rundu where she sells Dynapharm products.
Speaking to Confidente Sport this week, Kamwi said she is proud of her granddaughter who is like her own biological daughter.
Masilingi lives with her grandmother who raised her in Kehemu informal settlement in Rundu, while her mother Anna lives in Musanaga in Zambezi.
“All her life she has been running without running shoes and I remember that I was earning peanuts at Shoprite. I really suffered a lot with my granddaughter.
“Brenda (Oberholzer) approached Masilingi in Gaborone to ask her about her background and her parents because Oberholzer was so impressed with her running. Oberholzer wanted to take Masilingi to Walvis Bay so that she could train her,” recalls Kamwi.
Fast forward to 2012, the talented Masilingi received her first proper running spikes from Oberholzer, coach of 2012 Paralympic gold medalist winner Johanna Benson.
Since then Masilingi has been conquering the world and today she has over 69 medals to her name.
In 2019, then aged 16, Masilingi won four gold medals and set records in the 100, 200, and 400 metres at the Confederation of Southern African Schools Sports Association (Cosassa) athletics meeting in Eswatini. .
In October last year, Masilingi set a Namibian record (also U-18 African) record of 50.99 seconds in the women 400m, which saw her being offered a full scholarship from the University of Oklahoma.
On 10 April 2021, at the All Comers Meet in Lusaka, Zambia, Masilingi set a new personal best and Namibian record in the 200 metres, running 22.72 sec.
On 11 April, she became the third-fastest Under-20 in history after clocking 49.53 seconds in the 400m when she lost to fellow training partner Christine Mboma who set the world Under-20 record.
Last month Masilingi set a stadium record at the Kusociński Memorial in Chorzów, Poland – at the World Athletics Continental Tour silver level meet, winning 400 metres with a time of 49.88 seconds and her time was only 0.13 seconds lower than the 1976 meet and world record of 49.75 sec, which was set by Irena Szewińska when she was 30 years old.