Kaxuxuena not perturbed by NASA snub

By Michael Uugwanga

THE coach of Namibia’s top female  long distance runner Helalia Johannes, Robert Kaxuxuena, has said he has no idea why he was not shortlisted for the 2019 Namibia Sports Awards (NASA) Coach of the Year award. The shortlisted coaches for the prestigious award are Nestor Tobias (boxing), Grant Douglas Dodds (canoeing/rowing) and ElifasNamudjebo (boxing).

His mentee Johannes is  the favourite to win two top awards, Sportswomen of the Year and the Namibia Sports Star of the year award, Kaxuxuena surprisingly did not make it onto the shortlist for the award, a strange move, judging by the achievements of Johannes this season, including her International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)’s bronze medal win in Doha, Qatar last month and a gold medal in the Spar Women’s 10 Km Challenge race in Johannesburg, South Africa this month, which also resulted in  government officially congratulating her.

Last year, Kaxuxuena helped Johannes win the women’s marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in a time of 2:32:40 and also to become the first Namibian female to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in athletics.

Ahead of NASA ceremony scheduled for 26 October in Ondangwa, Kaxuxuena told Confidente this week that he was surprised about his omission from the list.

Last year, Johannes won the Sportswoman of the Year award, while Kaxuxuena lost out to boxing coach Tobias Nashilongo for the Coach of the Year Award, when he was one of the shortlisted candidates for the award alongside Nashilongo and Barbara Fernandez of Namibia Paralympics Committee

“I am just as surprised as you are. It is funny that the athlete (Johannes) is nominated but not the coach. I really do not know how it works at all. I do not know how the awards procedures work. They (NASA’s panellists and judges) are professionals and only them knows,” he said.

Kaxuxuena, who also coaches other well-known long distance athletes, such as Tomas Reinhold and Uveni Kuugongelwa, said the awards snub would not discourage him from helping athletes under his mentorship to continue to perform at national, local, regional, continental and on world stages.

“It’s not important if I am not nominated but it is sad. I will continue to work hard for the athletes as this will not affect my work. Our aim for next year with Johannes, in particular, is just to do well at the  Olympic Games. We are currently resting until after November as we are planning to start with our season next year January,” Kaxuxuena noted.

It is understood that Johannes will likely be a strong contender for a medal at next year’s Summer Olympic Games in Japan.

At 39, Johannes is not showing any signs of slowing down and might become only the second Namibian after legendary sprinter Frankie Fredericks to win an Olympic medal.

So far, the only Olympic success for Namibia has come at the Paralympics  Games notably with sprinter Ananias Shikongo who won a gold medal in the 200m T11 at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in Brazil.

Before Shikongo, Johanna Benson was the first Para-athlete to win a gold medal for Namibia in the women’s 200m T37  at the 2012 London  Paralympic  Games.

 Fredericks is to date the only Namibian athlete to win medals for the country at the Olympic Games in the shape of the silver medals won at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games in both the 100m and 200m races.