Masilinge (15) third-fastest in the world

By John Tuerijama

NAMIBIA’S third fastest 400m sprinter Beatrice Masilinge is destined to become a future international golden girl of the land of the brave if her recent local performances are anything to go by.

Speaking to Confidente this week, the Namibia Schools Sports Union (NSSU) national coordinator Solly Duiker said the junior athlete is ranked third in the world by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). The 15 year old from Agri College in Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa region is a Grade 9 learner born in the Zambezi region.

He said Masilinge had done exceptionally well in the 100m, 200m and 400m races during the recent national athletics championship in the capital. She clocked 53.06 seconds in the 400m during the recent national athletics championships and went on to impress with a time of 12.05 seconds in the 100m, and 24.39 seconds in the 200m.

Duiker added that the newfound athletic sensation is expected to do well at the upcoming All African Games scheduled from 16 to 30 August in Rabat, Morocco.

“Our long-term vision is to secure a bursary for her to go study in the United States of America (US) in the next two years when she starts her Grade 12. We have lined up two scholarships and [they] are likely to be finalised by the end of this year,” the NSSU national director said. Asked why the US, Duiker said the US is the mecca of sprinters and centrally situated for major competitions, especially the sprinting disciplines.

“America has the very best athletes in the world and we would like her to make her own footprints in athletics. The Namibia National Olympic Committee is looking at applying for an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship for 2020/2021 season so she can attend high performance centres in the USA.”

He added that the NSSU has also identified other potential talent, but for now the emphasis is on Masilinge and noted that Agri College had given her a scholarship that covers school fees, accommodation and her participation in various athletic competitions. “We have discovered a rough diamond and I urge everyone to nurture the talent and look after her wellbeing.”

He warned of athletic coaches who would want to grab her for their own selfish agendas, arguing that Masilinge can follow in the footsteps of legendary sprinter Frank Fredericks, although the NNSU wishes for Masilinge to write her own story into the annals of athletics history.

On his part, Masilinge’s coach Henk Botha when contacted said he had a discussion with Fredericks on how best to protect the junior sprinter in terms of ensuring that coaches and companies do not take advantage of her.

He said Masilinge is a true natural talent and potential that needs to be nurtured and taken care of. Botha said if Masilinge had taken part in the recent Diamond League held in Rome she would have ended sixth. “We have to find out as a country what is best for her, as coaches and private institutions might grab the opportunity looking at what they can make out [of it] for themselves. We need to guide her zealously for the next two to three years so that her dream route becomes similar to the one of Fredericks.”

Botha revealed that he is also in discussion with professionals in the US to secure a scholarship for Masilinge.” Everybody wants a piece of her but all she needs is the necessary guidance and right management.”

He said just like former sprint sensation Usain Bolt, Masilinge needs to go through the youth, junior and senior stages and the focus now must be on the upcoming All African Games and not yet the world championships.

“We must instead focus on the Junior World Championship next year before looking at major international competitions. I have no doubt that Masilinge is an extraordinary talent and with the right management she will soon be a force to be reckoned with,” the coach emphasised.

Botha is also equally excited about another Namibian discovery, 800m and 1500m runner Christine Mboma, whom he says has shown the talent and confidence needed to become a great athlete.