Excited about the 2012 Olympic Games but...
I haven’t been this excited about an international event in years and I can tell you, I can’t wait for the Olympics opening ceremony later today.
I have a feeling there will be plenty of drama throughout the Games and I’m even optimistic that Namibia can cause a few upsets as well.
But I also have to admit that I’m scared of history.
During the week I took a look at Namibia’s history at the Olympics - from its first participation after Independence, which was at Barcelona in 1992, to the Beijing Games of 2008.
The first thing I noticed is, of course, Frank Fredericks’ four silver medals (two in Barcelona and two in Atlanta).
Closer inspection then revealed that Fredericks was the only athlete to have reached the final of a track and field event, as in ever. (In addition to ‘92 and ‘96, he also reached the 200m final at the Athens Games in 2004).
Simply put, Namibian athletes all failed to qualify for the final of any codes that required them to go through heats.
Over the years, sprinters like Christie van Wyk and Sherwin Vries joined 400m runner Willie Smith and long jumper Stephan Louw in being eliminated in the early stages of their respective events.
The same can be said of other events like mountain biking, where Mannie Heymans’ best finish was 28th at the 2000 Games while Eric Hoffmann’s 22nd placing at the 2008 event is the best for road cycling.
Our boxers too have not done all that well, with Paulus Ambunda and Joseph Jermia’s quarterfinal placing still the furthest any fighter has gone at the Games.
Similarly, our marathon runners’ best was Beata Naigambo’s 28th finish at the 2008 Beijing Games.
When all is said and done, it becomes clear Namibia’s challenge is not about getting athletes to the Olympic Games but rather making sure its athletes can compete against the best in the world.
And this is where my optimism comes back in.
All nine athletes that have qualified for the London Games have done so with A Qualifying Standards, meaning they are in fact among the best in the world.
So now is their chance to write their names in history and to add to our medal count.