The Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNCO) Secretary-General, Joan Smit said Namibian sprinters who are in Jamaica will be excluded from the organisation’s funding Writes The Villager Sports Editor Michael Uugwanga.
Smit told The Villager Sport in an interview that “We normally receive money for every Commonwealth Games from the Commonwealth Federation for the athletes that are going to take part at the events but unfortunately athletes like Herunga will not benefit because they are on a special program in Jamaica”.
She added that, “ We only gave to Hilalia Johanness and Beata Naigambo , Swimmers, boxers and other sport codes who have qualified for the Commonwealth Games because these athletes do not receive a special treatments like those in Jamaica,” said Smit.
The athletes are in Jamaica as part of the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture special program of ensuring that Namibia becomes competitive at the 2016 Rio de Jeneiro Olympics and other major international events.The other athletes in Jamaica are,Hitjirue Kannjuka (100m and 200m), , Lilanne Klaasman (100m and 400m hurdles), Globine Mayova (100m and 200m) and Dantago Gurirab.
The Villager Sports, meanwhile managed to get on hold of Herunga who was not willing to talk about the issue, referring our sport desk to her manager, Letu Hamhola.
“ You need to talk to my trainer about that because I am not allowed to talk about that,” she said.
However, Herunga said she is eager to make a big mark at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland that starts in July, and end the country’s long wait for medals in the sprinting division with legendary Frankie Fredericks the last sprinter from the country to win medals.
Fredericks won gold in the 200m and bronze in the 100m at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada and silver in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia.
“ It is an honour to represent my country every time, because I feel proud to do it. I have never been to the Commonwealth Games and I definitely want to compete at that level. Only God can give that answer but what I have learnt if I am in the best shape of my life and that opportunity knocks at my door, I will open and grab it.I believe in my ability. Why not,” said Herunga.
For Herunga to bring success to the country, she will have to overcome stiff competition of some of the world’s best female sprinters in the likes of British sensation, Christina Ohuruogu and Bostwana’s Amantle Montsho.
Ohuruogu won gold at last year’s World Championships that was held in Russia, with Montsho coming in second place with silver medal, while Herunga managed to reach the semi-finals at the championships.
“ I plan to be to be 110% fit both mentally and physical because I do not believe in luck but hard work, commitment and dedication. If I look at the World Championships final, gold went to Ohuruogu and silver went to Montsho, that does tell me how hard I have to work but I love a challenge,” said Herunga.
Herunga also said that she has no plans of visiting the country soon as she is focusing on her athletic career and studies.
“ At the moment I am just focusing on my athletics life and studies and when the opportunity comes I will visit Namibia because that’s home. I also believe that the more you think and miss home, the more you will want to return. It doesn’t matter where you are,” said Herunga.