Namibian Olympian and sport shooter, Gaby Ahrens plans to retire from competitive shooting after the 2016, but before that, she has firmly set her sights on qualifying for and winning a medal at next year’s Olympics games.
The Windhoek born athlete is one of only two shooters to have represented Namibia at the Olympics, the other being Friedhelm Sack who competed in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 games.
Her career spans over a decade with local, continental and international medals, but before she draws the curtains, or more appropriately hangs up her shotgun, she plans to make history.
“Winning an Olympic medal for my country is definitely my goal for next year. At this stage of course, my main goal is to qualify for the Games. My training program and competition schedule for this goal are set. I am focused and all my efforts are towards qualifying for Rio,” Ahrens told The Villager sport.
With just over a year to go before the 2016 Olympics commence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ahrens said her training regime has intensified. “I am training now four times a week on the Shooting Range and two hours every day in the Gym. I also spend hours listening to Mental Training Audio Books and my nutrition is fine-tuned,” she said.
Since January, Ahrens has competed at National Trials to secure her place in the Namibian team representing the country at World Cups and Championships as well as the Continental Championships this year. Tomorrow, she will be flying out to Cyprus to compete at the ISSF World Cup event.
“In May, I will compete at the South African Championships. In June we have the Namibian Championships, in August I will compete at another World Cup in Azerbaijan. Then in November the most important event for qualification will be competing at the African Shooting Championships which will be my main focus,” she said. It is here where she would need to win the gold medal to secure her place in Rio 2016.
With the competition she has so far, including Gielie van Wyk who took gold at the first trials of the year back in February at the Luiperdsvalley military base shooting range, Ahrens said “My performances so far have definitely made me more confident. The more exposure and experience behind me the more confident I feel. I am also very comfortable with my Krieghoff Shotgun and my preparation efforts.”
Since the 2012 Olympic games in London, where Ahrens finished 22nd, she won the South African Shooting Championships in 2013 & 2014. She ended in the top 10 at the ISSF World Cup in USA in 2014 and shot her personal best score at a World Cup there. “I was part of the Commonwealth Games Team in Scotland in 2014 and shot a descent score here too.
I have also been elected as Athletes Representative on the Namibia Olympic Committee which is giving me a new direction and opening my vision to the administrative side of Sport in Namibia. It’s great to give back to Sport through these efforts and to represent Athletes in my Country,” she said.
She has received a good number of sponsorship deals after that, including Hyundai Namibia, Wecke & Voigts and Proactive Marketing who came on board to aid her financially. She said her confidence was also boosted by her achievement. But for the most part, life goes on normally for her.
“I get up at 05h00 every morning to run on my treadmill. Then I am at the office all day. I love being in business. I love the challenges that come along with it. I am a hard worker and I take pride in my business ethics and work. After work I go train at the Gym for another two hours. In the evenings I usually attend meetings of committees I am serving on. So my days are jam packed with positive activities. Weekends I spend on the Shooting Range,” she said, adding, “I sacrifice a lot of my social life. To find the balance is not always easy. I am very good at managing my time and I with proper planning I find my balance.”
With her retirement ever looming, as she plans to shift focus towards Sport management and Southern Cross Services-a family business, Ahrens said she has been impressed by the strides local sport is taking to make sure there more Gaby Ahrens in the future.
“There are huge developments taking place in the sport on a national level. Federations are working hard for their athletes, the Sports Commission and National Olympic Committee are working together closely with the Ministry and their members to overcome problems and keep the Athlete in mind. I am very positive that we have the right people in the right positions to make the future of Namibian Athletes prosperous.” However she added, “I would love to see more women shooting my discipline in Namibia.”