Sprint sensation Masilingi expected to bag gold

By John Tuerijama

NAMIBIA is pinning her hopes of bagging a gold medal at the 2019 Africa Games currently underway in Rabat, Morocco on upcoming 100m and 200m sprint star Beatrice Masilinge. The 16-year-old sprint marvel is the country’s third fastest 400m champion and has been described as a future track star.

2019 Africa Games Team Namibia manager Berthold Karumendu in an interview with this publication described Masilingi as a “rough diamond” who needs to be cautiously nurtured and moulded into a formidable force in African athletics.

The Grade 9 learner from Agri College in Grootfontein, Otjozondjupa region did exceptionally well in the 100m, 200m and 400m during this year’s national athletics championship in the capital.           

Asked about Namibia’s athletic team’s chances of bringing home medals, Karumendu said there would be no pressure on Masilingi in Rabat as her athletic career has just started and has a long way to go.

“She is our very own diamond that needs to be polished and that can only be done if we have a sponsorship. The focus on her is to ensure that she competes in all the necessary events, such the ongoing Africa Games, world championship and the Region 5 [games] with the aim of qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games… from 26 July to 11 August in Paris, France.”

Karumendu argued that Namibians must not expect many medals from the continental competition because the event will feature Africa’s best, and the cream of the crop of African athletes took part in the Diamond League, including the world championships where to Namibian athletes were not invited.

“It’s a tight competition and our athletes have not taken part in such competitions, never competed at major international athletic competitions but I pin my hopes on Masilingi to reach either the semi-final or the final of either the 100m, 200m and 400m.”

On his part, Namibia National School Sports Union (NSSU) national coordinator Solly Duiker said Masilingi is ranked third in the world by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

He said Masilinge had done exceptionally this year at the national championships, where she clocked  53.06 seconds in the 400m and went on to impress when she ran 12.05 seconds in the 100m and 24.39 seconds in the 200m, respectively.

Duiker added that the newfound athletic sensation was expected to do very well at the African Games in Morocco. He said: “Our long term vision is to secure a bursary for her to go study in the United States of America (USA) in the next two years when she finishes her Grade 12. We have lined up two scholarships and [they] are likely to be finalised by the end of this year.”

The veteran sport administrator also pinned his hopes on Gilbert Hainuka, who did very well during the 2018 Africa Championships in the 100m finals, coming seventh overall while another hopeful to do well is the experienced female sprinter Tjipekapora Heringa and marathon runner Beata Naigambo.

The veteran runner has a personal record of 2.27.28 seconds set at the Hamburg marathon in April 2015, and last competed at the 2008 summer Olympic, where she finished 28th out of 81 participants in the women’s marathon.

Karumendu said it was up to Naingambo to make use of her experience if she really wants to well at the games, but warned Namibians not to have too high expectations of the team. He further said invites to events such as the Diamond League do not come on a silver plate, thus one can expect top notch African athletes who were part of the Diamond League, especially from Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria.

He added that Namibia will feature 18 athletes at the continental showpiece with the team expected to depart next week.    

Athletes are Ernst Narib, Sydney Kamuruuma, Thomas Reinhold, Roger Haitengi, Helalia Johannes, Lavinia Haitope, Uweni-Nawa Kuugongelwa, Chenault Coetzee, Mahmad  Bock, Jeremia Shaliamwe, Beatrice Masingili, Beata Naigambo, Jolene Jacobs, Jesse Urikhob, Even Tjiviju, Thasiso Aochamub, Ivan Geldenhuys, Globine Mayova, Rondegudus Gustav, Gilbert Hainuca, Dantango Gurirab, Wiencuslaaus Klaasman, Kennethe Tites, Daniel Nghipandulwa, Sandro  Diergaardt, Ryan Williams,  Natalie Louw, Ane Rautenbauch and  Salmi Ndiviteko. Officials: Hendrik Botha, Tobias Hiskia, Bethold Karumendu and Joseph Obermuller.