By Carlos Kambaekwa WINDHOEK In a bid to encourage local athletes to reach greater heights at international competitions - MTC Namibia has raised the bar with several incentives now up for grabs. The giant mobile communication entity once again reaffirmed its commitment to the development of sport in the country when it extended its annual sponsorship deal with local middle-distance athlete Agnes Samaria for another year at a special function in the capital yesterday. The lanky athlete was well over the moon upon receiving a cheque of N$300 000 from MTC's General Manager of Corporate Affairs Albertus Aochamub, better known as "Pabso" in social circles. A good chunk of the money will be primarily used towards Samaria's bid to qualify for this year's Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. "Its our sincere belief that its every athlete's dream to win medals at the Olympics, never mind the colour, so I beg to differ with the notion that the mere participation at this prestigious event is what matters the most," said the articulate Aochamub. He further called for objective reporting and urged sports journalists not only to focus on the negative aspects of athletes, but also to share in the glory of athletes. With less than three months left before the curtain opens for the global showpiece - Samaria is yet to confirm her presence in Beijing, as she still needs to meet the qualification time for both the 800 and 1500 metres events. She already met the qualification time in Osaka, Japan last year, but the International Athletic Federation (IAAF) requires a 2nd check. "Actually, I don't have a problem with that - it is just that I was not warned beforehand, but that's now water under the bridge because I'm confident that I'll make the grade and qualify in time for my second appearance at the Olympics." Samaria finished 9th overall in the heats of the 800 metres and missed out on the finals, but she reckons she has learned her lessons the hard way from Athens and will not repeat the same mistakes again. Samaria won two bronze medals in both the 800 and 1500 metres at the recently concluded African Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She will be flying out to Germany next week Monday, where she will compete in minor races in the hope of fast-tracking her preparation for the elusive Olympic qualification time. "There are quite a number of major events coming up between June and July, and I really hope to maximize those platforms to meet the qualification standards," concluded Samaria.
2008-05-23 00:00:00 10 years ago