RUNDU – Teen sprinter and Olympic medallist Christine Mboma has turned her focus on education following an eventful athletics season.
The 18-year-old, who broke the country’s 25-year Olympics hoodoo when she bagged silver, is still pursuing studies through Cambridge. “I am still in school. I am currently studying through Cambridge online now that it is off season,” she told New Era Sport in an interview. “I am getting enough time now for my schoolwork because I didn't have enough space for my studies when I was busy competing. I had to attend to schoolwork and training, and it was tough.”
Mboma, who is also the favourite to win the Sports Star of the Year accolade at the upcoming national sports awards, also made history by becoming the first African athlete to win the Diamond League over 200m. "Growing up at Mbwata village, I dreamt of making it out of the village as an athlete. But I dreamt of making it happen in Windhoek. I didn’t dream that I will compete on international platforms or tour the world competing,” said Mboma after a brief training session last week at Rundu.
On competing at the highest international level, Mboma said it was an honour and a great experience. “I need to push for next year just to improve, so I need training grounds,” she said. Mboma urged upcoming sprinters to focus on their goals. “If they love what they are doing, they can take it far; they should just believe in themselves and keep pushing,” she said.
Mboma has, however, decried the state of the Rundu sports stadium, which is dilapidated with a rundown gravel running track. The athlete thus appealed to the sports ministry to provide athletes with proper facilities in order to train and thrive.
“I am in Rundu and although it is off season, I still have to train to keep my body fit but when I am here training, I can’t do it effectively because I can’t do sprints with my spikes on the sandy track. It is uncomfortable,” she said, adding a proper tartan track would enable regions to host athletics meetings, where untapped talent could be unearthed.
Many athletes struggle to perform optimally when exposed to better running tracks to which they are not familiar.
Kavango East sports officer Erastus Someno is in total concurrence there is a need to improve sports facilities in the region. “Rundu sports stadium, specifically, needs major renovations and an upgrade. There is a high demand for a tartan track,” he said. The stadium, which is the main sports facility in the region, has dysfunctional ablution facilities, while the irrigation system also requires replacement. “The current one requires more manpower, and we only have one person (labourer) to do it since the caretaker went into retirement,” Someno noted. “The stadium doesn’t have an irrigation pump since last year October, and the one we are currently using is a private one which the owner can remove anytime. This situation was reported to the works ministry and directorate of sport, and nothing has been done up to date.” According to Someno, the exploits of Beatrice Masilingi and Mboma have inspired many athletes in the country to take sports seriously.
“During off season, like now, the girls are spending most of their time with their families in Rundu. But they can’t spend the whole time at home; they need some time to sharpen up,” he said.
“During off season, it is only the intensity and volume of training that is reduced. Meaning, for them to keep up good form for every season, they need to train on a tartan track, not on gravel which is different from their usual competing tracks.” The current state of the facility can easily lead to injuries, Someno said. “And it is our responsibility as the ministry to safeguard these two athletes if we want to celebrate them for many years to come. I agree, the directorate of sport needs to come up with a maintenance plan for all ministerial stadiums,” he said.