Name: Gaby Diana Ahrens
Date of Birth: 15/03/1981
Place of Birth: Windhoek
Marital Status: Married
Favourite international shooter/s? Correy Cogdell (USA) and Jessica Rossi (Italy).
Career achievements? Being the African champion in 2011 and 2015, and winning bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Most memorable competition? 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Biggest career disappointment? Missing out on the final with only 1 target at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Who is the biggest influence on your career? My father and coach Hasso Ahrens.
You are widely regarded as one of Namibia’s most successful and highly decorated athletes. Having represented the country at three Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, in London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, how has all that experience shaped you as an athlete and as a person? I am extremely grateful for all the experience I have accumulated during my sports career. If anything, it has humbled me, opened my mind by exposing me to many different cultures, religions, and people. I have gone from being shy to outgoing, people-friendly, and confident.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, you were the country’s flag-bearer at the Games, making you the first-ever Namibian woman to receive such an honour. How big of a moment was that for you? To lead Team Namibia into the opening ceremony stadium at the Olympic Games remains one of the proudest moments of my life. When I look at the pictures and videos of that day, my big smile reveals how amazing this moment was for me. It is the biggest honour a sports person can be given.
You are not only regarded as an athlete but a voice for the voiceless in the local sports sector. How have you used your influence and experience to help uplift upcoming athletes? My role as athletes’ representative at the Namibia National Olympic Committee is to make sure the rights, views, and voices of the athletes are always taken into consideration at the decision-making tables. I am currently working towards ensuring that all national federations give athletes – not only a seat but also a vote at the executive board level – and in this way ensure that the athletes’ voice is heard. Since my retirement in 2016, I have focused my efforts mainly to educate athletes on the importance of preparing for life after sport. Athletes are determined, focused, disciplined, and resilient – and these are sought after traits in the business world. Athletes need to understand the balance between sport, work, studies, and life.
You retired after the 2016 Olympics and went on to become an instrumental part of the Namibia Athletes Commission, how has the work of the Commission been? After 2016, I completed my Master’s Degree in Sports Management and have since then organised athletes’ forums and workshops – and I am currently busy putting together an ambassador workshop with the Namibia Olympians Association, which teaches athletes how to become great ambassadors for their country. The work is voluntary but extremely rewarding by being in a position of providing athletes with the necessary tools to achieve in life and seeing them using these for their gains.
Are you satisfied with the current state of Namibian clay target shooting? During 2016, our shooting clubs had to vacate from the national defense force grounds in Luiperdsvalley. This meant all shooting clubs had to rebuild themselves from scratch. Clay shooting has now found a new home on private grounds near Windhoek, and it is slowly but surely rebuilding itself there. However, the shooting range is not of Olympic standards, and most shooters currently only shoot socially and not competitively on the international circuit.
Comparing experiences, what does Namibia need to do for sport to catch up with the rest of the world? More investment. Not only from the government but also from the private sector. The national budget for sport this year is meagre and not sufficient at all. We also need to professionalise our ways and move from voluntary positions to paid positions to start holding people accountable in the administrative jobs they are doing. Namibia also needs to re-strategise. We have too many umbrella bodies and commissions duplicating efforts. It would make sense to streamline, cut expenses where possible, and put the athlete in front of the line when it comes to funding.
Your ambitions for 2020 and beyond? I am a candidate for the IOC Athletes Commission. The elections will be held at the Tokyo Olympic Games. It would be a dream come true to serve on an international board and gain experience across our borders.
2020-07-02 09:28:01 | 5 months ago