Johannes mentally fit for marathon – Kaxuxwena

By Michael Uugwanga

ROBERT Kaxuxwena, coach of the country’s most decorated long distance female runner Helalia Johannes has said that his athlete is mentally fit and ready to compete against other top female runners come Saturday, in the women’s Olympic marathon event in Tokyo.

Johannes, who is regarded as one of the top female marathon runners in the last three years or so, will be looking to win her first Olympic medal even though it is not going to be an easy race, as she is up against other top contenders for medals.

Johannes heads into the marathon heat full of confidence since 2019 when she became the first Namibian female runner to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships, after she came in third place in Doha, just a year after winning a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Last year December, she set a lifetime best of 2:19:52 in Valencia, Spain and is now tipped to win a medal for Namibia at the Olympics, even though she has to beat rival Peres Jepchirchir, the winner of the Valencia marathon with a time of 2:17:16.

Speaking to Confidente Sport from Tokyo, Kaxuxwena said preparation has been going well in high humid weather and that the runner is focusing on herself and not her competitors.

“Preparations for Helalia went very well and she is mentally fit and ready for the event. Since arriving in Japan it has been well for her. She is not looking at specific competitors because all other competitors at the Olympics are all concerned about one another. I am only expecting her to do her level best on Saturday.

“One thing you should know is that the Olympic marathon event is very tactical for athletes to run a personal best and on the other hand marathon is not common to run a personal best or world record due to high humidity.

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Namibians should keep on supporting her because good things will come home,” he said.

Thomas Reinhold who is also the only male marathon runner to represent Namibia at the Olympic Games wants to better his 17th finish from the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

Reinhold is also coached by Kaxuxwena.

At 30, Reinhold will also be making his first Olympic appearance, even though he had already been at other major marathon events. Besides the World Athletics Championships, he made his name at the 2018 IAAF World Marathon Championships in Spain where he finished in a disappointing position of 111.

In April this year, Reinhold qualified for the Olympics after achieving a personal best of 2:10:24 at the Xiamen Marathon and Tuscany Camp Global Elite Race; despite finishing in 28th position that was enough to book a ticket to the Games.  The male marathon is set to take place on the final day of the Olympic Games on Sunday, August 8.

“I am here to maintain my current personal best. I also want to break the national record.  I have been running since I was 13 and I have improved a lot since I decided to join Kaxuxwena’s camp. I just want to do well,” said Reinhold.

The women’s marathon is the second last event of the Olympic Games, while the men’s marathon is the last event of the four-year showcase.