Superlative Johannes needs support

By John Tuerijama

NAMIBIA’s marathon queen Helalia Johannes praiseworthy performance at the South African Spar 10km women’s challenge over the course of five legs has not financially impacted positively as she now needs funds to prepare for the world championship.

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) world championship is scheduled for Doha in September, with the world best runners eyeing the podium.

Helalia did exceptionally well at this year’s South African Spar women’s challenge, winning five legs with the sixth and final leg scheduled for 6 October. However, she is yet to decide if she will run the final leg, having already outrun her opponents with ease.

The Namibian marathon sensation recorded the South African Spar 10km women’s challenge fastest time in Durban in 30 minutes, 58 seconds breaking the 19-year-old record including her own national record three times in a raw.

However, winning the Spar women’s challenge has not impacted positively on her finances as she is said to be in need of funds to embark on an intensive training camp in Potchefstroom, South Africa in preparation for the upcoming IAAF world championship.

Johannes will not feature at the 2019 Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco as she intends on conquering the world stage by winning the Doha world championship women’s marathon.

Speaking to this publication an excited Johannes said she was extremely happy with her performance in the Spar women’s challenge but has to refocus her energy on the world championship, which requires up-to-standard preparation that can only take place at the Potchefstroom High Performance Centre.

“I am not disappointed for not featuring at the Africa Games, my plan is to compete at the world championship and I must kick off with preparation, however lack of funds does not permit me to have a training camp in Potchefstroom.”

The Commonwealth gold medallist needs N$80,000 to pay for the facility, physio, nutrition, travelling and accommodation. She added that in the past the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) generously assisted her in preparing for international competitions, adding that she does not have a sponsor to make her training in Potchefstroom a reality.

On his part, Johannes’ coach Robert Kaxuxwena said that having a training camp in Potchefstroom would have a positive effect on Johannes, considering the humid weather conditions and state-of-the-art facilities at the high performance centre, which Namibia does not have.

He said that if funds were not forthcoming they will have a training camp locally, because they do not have the financial means to make the Potchefstroom training camp a reality.

Asked if they had approached the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) for funding, the coach said Athletics Namibia (AN) did contact the relevant authority but funds were not available.

“We will concentrate on having a local training camp as we are going to do our best with the little resources we have, but sometimes having a training camp abroad is the best option as there will be no disruptions and the athlete will have 100 percent concentration on the training,” he stressed.

“Our objective is to keep the momentum where we are, and our chance of winning at the IAAF world championship is there. I am impressed with Johannes performances in South Africa, as I let her run the 10km race. That helped a lot with her speed and I am grateful that she built up her speed and concentrated on her endurance.”

Kaxuxwena noted the importance of nutritional supplements, adding that in preparing for the 42km marathon in Doha one needs to have enough supplements but they are very expensive.

“We will try our best in overcoming the challenges and instead concentrate fully on the world championship. I am happy with the strategy we used during the Spar women’s challenge going forward to the world championship and the 2020 Olympic Games,” he said.

He added that the IAAF world championship on 27 September will feature Kenyan and Ethiopian runners and would be undoubtedly be a highly competitive event.