Name: Hendrik Botha
Date of Birth: 30 December 1968
Place of Birth: Windhoek
Marital Status: Married to Elize
What would you say are some of your career achievements as a coach?
I would say becoming a national rugby coach for the country’s various teams and also taking my expertise to athletics, where we have been doing exceptionally well. I’m now an Olympics coach set to represent our country in Tokyo.
As an athletics coach, which is your most memorable competition? They are so many to mention, and it is almost impossible to pick one. But maybe I will go with my first big athletics event, which was at the 2017 African Youth Games in Algeria.
Your favourite local or international athlete/s?
My girls – Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi.
What would you say is your biggest career disappointment?
When my daughter, whom I coach, was not allowed to attend the World Youth Olympics because she was a principle selection.
Who is the biggest influence on your career?
There are so many people who have played a big role in my career and who have been part of this journey, but I would say my wife, Elize, has definitely been the biggest influencer.
If not athletics, which other sport would you have taken up fulltime as coach?
It would definitely have been rugby.
Looking at all your achievements and where you are today, how difficult has your journey been?
To be quite honest, it has not been an easy journey. But what I can confidently say is that it has been worth every penny and drop of sweat.
You were first a renowned shot put coach. What inspired you to start coaching in sprint events?
I was actually a great sprinter myself during those days, but was later forced to coach shot put and discus due to my daughter’s involvement in those items. As a coach, I have always been better in sprinting, but life’s journey got me to do throws.
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
I believe winning should not be the most important focus, but pushing yourself beyond your own limits should be the focus; not just chasing records or fame.
Tell us, how did you discover our two sprint sensations - Beatrice and Christine?
I am involved in the Namibia Schools Sports Union (NSSU) programmes, and I was motivated by NSSU national coordinator Solly Duiker to get Beatrice into a system where she could be developed, and thereafter the sports ministry asked me to add Christine to the development programme I was working on. As they say, the rest is history.
Did you see early on that the two sprinters were destined for the big stage?
Naturally, one never knows, but six months into our training programme, I realised they are something special.
We recently learned the two sprinters will not compete in their preferred 400m race at the Tokyo Olympics due to their high natural testosterone levels.
How did you handle the news? Obviously, the news was devastating for me and a big shock. But I know for sure that those two girls are strong enough to take on life’s challenges, and that somehow also helped me handle the news differently.
Amidst the sad news, what did you do as coach to keep the girls motivated?
We always have regular meetings, where we talk about the journey, and just generally how they are feeling and what we need to do as a team. Through those interactions, I try my best to keep them focused.
You and the two sprinters are leaving for the Olympics
What can we expect from your team in Tokyo?
Look, we have set ourselves a target to first take care of the opening rounds and then shift our focus to the semi-finals, and hopefully do great in the finals. But our main target is reaching the semi-finals, and taking it forward from there.
You seem to have a very special bond with the two sprinters – a relationship many have come to describe as a father-daughter relationship.
What would you advise young coaches on the importance of such relationships with their athletes?
I believe the relationship aspect between a coach and athlete is as important as the training itself, and there is a psychological side that you need to attend to. An athlete with a healthy mind will obviously perform better. The relationship we have is not only that of coach and athlete, as you said – it is more like a father-daughter relationship, and this goes for all my athletes.
From a general standpoint and obviously comparing experiences, what’s your take on the current state of Namibian athletics?
I think we can do much better than we are currently doing as a country, but to reach new heights we need corporate partners on board to help with the development of young athletes, and to get the sport of athletics back as the country’s number one sport.
Your plans for 2021 and beyond?
Looking ahead, we want to win medals at the upcoming World Junior Athletics Championships, prepare for the next edition of the World Athletics Championships and also the Commonwealth Games slated for Birmingham next year.