Helao Nafidi moots honouring top athlete

• By Michael Uugwanga

THE town council of Helao Nafidi has said that it is in the process of naming a street after Olympian and the country’s best female marathon athlete, Helalia Johannes.

This was said by Helao Nafidi mayor Darius Shaalukeni in an interview with Confidente. He said that they will first go for consultation for the plan to go ahead.

Johannes who turns 41 this year was born at Oshali village in Ohangwena region, and is regarded as the country’s greatest marathon runner and her achievements over the years are second to none.

Her illustrious achievements over the years prompted the town council of Helao Nafidi to consider naming a street after her.

If successful, she will follow in the footsteps of other athletes that have streets named after them, notably, Johanna Benson in Walvis Bay, Christine Mboma, Beatrice Masilingi (Rundu), Ananias Shikongo, Johannes Nambala (Ondangwa) and Luketz Swaartbooi in Rehoboth.

“I do have Helalia Johannes’ name on my table. I only have to consult the Namibia School Sport Union (NSSU), Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) and the Ohangwena Athletics Club so that they can confirm if we can do it,” said Shaalukeni.

He added that there are other great runners from the region that also deserve such an honour.

“We have many other great and retired athletes that deserve street naming. One only has to submit a motivation on these athletes and if one supports my idea for street naming then it is when I will submit to the council for approval,” said the mayor.

Johannes, who is married to former professional boxer Jafet Utoni with whom she has two children, holds Namibia’s record in the 5000m, 10km, half marathon 21 km and full marathon 42 km.

She has won four top international marathon medals; one gold medal and three bronze medals.

She won bronze medals at the 2011 Military World Games in Brazil, the 2011 All-Africa Games in Mozambique, 2019 World Championship in Qatar and a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Other accolades to her name include the 2020 bronze medal at Valencia marathon in Spain, gold medal at the Marugame marathon in Japan, 2019 gold medal at the CISM Military World Games in Wuhan, China, 2019 gold medal at the Two Oceans half marathon, 2019 silver medal at the Bogota International half marathon, and 2019 gold medal at Nagoya women’s marathon in Japan.