For the first time since their unceremonious ban from partaking in the 400m event by World Athletics due to their so-called elevated natural testosterone levels, Namibia’s sprint queens Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi yesterday opened up about the sensitive topic and shared their experience.
Speaking during the programme ‘Namibian athletes reflect on their journey to success’ hosted and streamed live by the information ministry, both athletes shared how World Athletics’ rules rocked their world and how they have since adapted to life.
Masilingi said the announcement by World Athletics came as a shock and was a bitter pill to swallow, as they were forced to readjust their training and techniques from the 400m to the much shorter 200m event.
“It was quite disturbing at the beginning; it was hard to understand – but as time went on, we had no choice but to rather focus on the positive side of things. So, we decided to turn our focus and attention to the 200m and started working on it,” said Masilingi. She added that adjusting to the 200m was not so smooth sailing, as it meant they equally had to do more work on their techniques, training and overall performance, as it is a shorter distance compared to their preferred 400m.
“We had to adjust quickly; it demanded that we mentally and physically switch our thoughts very fast ahead of the Olympics. We literally had to change how we do things on the track,” added Masilingi, who finished 6th overall in the women’s 200m final in a personal best time of 22.28 seconds at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
On her part, Mboma also expressed disappointment with World Athletics’ harsh rules, describing it as an announcement that changed their world and placed them in a very awkward position ahead of their biggest event - the Olympics.
“Very disappointed… it was bad news because our focus was always on the 400m and we had been training for the 400m all along. But now, you are told you can’t run 400m. We were not even sure if we could really do well in the 200m, but we had no choice. It was a very bad experience. But we had talks with our coach and we decided to do the 200m. Getting out of the starting blocks during training for the 200m was a bit of a problem – but if you believe in yourself, everything is possible,” said Mboma, who went on to win the country’s first medal at the Olympics in 25 years – a silver in the women’s 200m at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.