How athletics became my trump card – Fredericks

By John Tuerijama

LEGENDARY sprint sensation and Olympic silver medallist Frank Fredericks says athletics became his trump card to get noticed in the world as he dreamed of becoming a Springbok, but Namibia’s Independence brought about new opportunities to compete internationally.

Speaking during the inaugural Sports Expo, Fredericks said he was confronted with offers from various universities in South Africa as he was the fastest man on the track in southern Africa. Presenting on the topic of ‘Professionalism and the Olympic dream’, Fredericks said the chance of lifetime came when he joined Rössing, and went on to thank those who lost their loved ones to establish a new Namibia.

Born in Katutura from a humble background the track legend added that carrying the flag of the new Namibian nation was a moment of absolute pride and joy. He added that more came through when he was the world, African Commonwealth champion, including running the most sub-20 seconds in the 200m races ever, while also running under 10 seconds in the 100m.

Fredericks who holds a Bachelor in Computer Science degree turned professional athlete in the late 90s and retired from active athletics after the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

He said education and sport ensure a smoother transition towards life after sport. Growing up in Katutura and with limited opportunities to excel academically and in sport, he said that Concordia College opened new possibilities, as he aspired to obtain a university degree which was his primary goal.

In his illustrious athletic career Fredericks won the 100m and 200m races in the African Championship and went on to clinch a silver in the 200m in  the world championship in Tokyo.

The Namibian sprinter specialised in the 100m and 200m, but luck was not on his side in 2000 and 2001 when he picked up an injury although he went on to compete in the Manchester Commonwealth Games, and in 2003 won a silver at the African Games in Abuja, Nigeria.

Fredericks’ athletics career ended when he came fourth in the Olympic Games in Athens. The track legend attended various universities, such at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah and the United States of America (USA), and in the twilight of his career he became the collegiate sprint champion.

The Sports Expo was attended by a handful of sport administrators, including former footballers, as well as academics and sport enthusiasts from neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.