One of Namibia’s sprint greats, Tjipee Herunga expressed great admiration with the exploits of young sprinters Beatrice Masilingi and Christine Mboma, saying if they don’t succumb to the growing pressure from the nation, they will go on to achieve great things for the country.
Herunga, who a few years ago was the toast of the country in the 200m and 400m events, said the advantage of age is on the side of both runners, and that gives them perfect room to continue learning and gaining experience as they compete in more international events. Both Masilingi and Mboma are18 years of age.
Just this past weekend, Mboma and Masilingi, who are both set to compete at next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, again dominated headlines in both Poland and Spain. Mboma clocked an astonishing 22:79 seconds to win the 200m race during the World Athletics Continental Tour in Madrid, Spain, while Masilingi was unstoppable as she stormed to victory in the 400m race in a time of 49:88 seconds at the World Athletics Orlen Janusza Kusocinskiego Memorial in Poland.
“I’m very proud of those two girls. The things they are currently doing are amazing and we are all proud as a nation,” said the nimble-footed Herunga, who scooped bronze in the 200m and 400m races at the 2011 All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique and another bronze medal in the 400m at the
2015 All Africa Games in Brazzaville.
She, however, admitted that the two young athletes still have a lot to learn despite their continuous jaw-dropping performances.
“I’m now seeing that pressure is now growing from the side of the nation; everybody wants to see them perform and win things, but I just hope they won’t succumb to the growing pressure. They are still young and still have a lot to learn. There are some things they are missing out during races, but I have also been in touch with them sharing a few pieces of advice. I want to see them succeed and make the country proud as they have been doing,” said the 33-year-old Herunga, who also represented the country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Weighing in on Masilingi’s overall performance across various races, Herunga observed that the young sprinter needs to perfect her stride when sprinting and work on how she positions her back.
“Overall, she is a great runner and she is set to achieve even greater things, but I recently shared with her that she needs to continue working on her stride because I have noticed that she doesn’t open her legs as much as she should when sprinting, and that could be a huge problem in big races. I also advised her to work on how she positions her back. I noticed that she leans backwards when running and that tends to slow athletes down. But otherwise, let’s all continue supporting our girls and I wish them both all the best for the upcoming Olympic Games.”