Not much is known about Namibia’s second largest harbour town Lüderitz, but this remote town with her historical German buildings boasts a unique history and has produced a decent number of outstanding personalities.
The town was home to one of the most colourful music bands of all time – the three-piece Osibisa rock band, which won the Battle of the Bands contest at the packed-to-rafters Katutura Community Hall in 1975. The Bucht has also given birth to well-known socialites and great men of substance in the mould of business mogul Sidney Martin, Tim Ekandjo, Idah Jimmy, Isack Hamata, Clemence Daniels, and few others.
On the sports front, the port town also produced a decent number of phenomenal footies in the shape of former Blue Waters Football Club box-to-box midfielder Jean Martin, Kazan Sobuso, Leo Shimbublu, Pietie van Wyk, Stanley Kwambi, Joseph ‘Boeta Ballack’ Sekhobo, Nicolas ‘Rampie’ Links, and Eusebio Fredericks, to mention but a few. However, none have made significant international headlines than sprinting sensation, Benedictus Botha.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends that profiles our sport heroes and heroines past and present, New Era Sport goes shoulder to shoulder with the retired sprinting sensation, as he takes us down memory lane.
Born in the laid-back windy town of Lüderitz, adjacent the giant Atlantic Ocean on the 21st of June 1978, young Benedictus Botha was destined for greatness since his infant years.
How it all started
Barely out of his pair of shorts, young Benny’s sporting journey got off the ground way back in 1987 when he participated in his first national competition.
“This was indeed the real highlight of my sporting career and the athletics bug bit me right there, but I didn’t really pay much attention to the bite. The oval ball game of rugby and the beautiful game of football enjoyed first preference, because it was also part of life growing up in the dusty streets of Nautilus,” reveals the Cheesekop retired speedster.
Despite his unquenchable love for rugby and football, his streetwise uncle, the late Nicolas ‘Rampie’ Links, was a great influence in his formative years during his primary and secondary school athletics meetings.
“Boeta Rampz was the driving force behind my success from the early stages of my life, and always made the right decisions to put my athletics career on the right track.”
His athletics career started with intensive training conducted vigorously on gravel tracks without marks, guessing the distance needed to be run. “Looking back now, it was more or less the actual distance”.
The pair cleverly developed a five-year plan, and the fruits of hard training finally paid off in 1995, when the speedster clinched a well-deserved gold medal in the National Schools Athletics Championships in Otjiwarongo, showing pre-race favourites Tobias Akwenye and Botha Ellis, a clean pair of heels.
However, it was not a smooth sailing journey for the Buchters, as they were obliged to make some serious sacrifices. The team had to travel energy-sapping long distances to the capital city by road to compete in high-profile gatherings, often obstructed by broken cars, obliging the traveling entourage to overnight at petrol service stations, until the vehicle was fixed.
This unfortunate exercise had its ups and downs, as they would sometimes arrived just few hours before competitions. Nonetheless, with Bro Rampz by his side, Benny was in good company.
“Eish...Bro Rampz would always encourage me after those ordeals, saying we should not pay too much attention to it because we would do well on the athletics track. He had so much belief in the group that he would go to the extent of using his own money to make sure we attended out of town competitions.”
In the intervening years, Bro Rampz set up the Lüderitz Track and Field Club in 1995 with financial backing from the booming fishing industry, spearheaded by Pescanova (Novanam), which purchased state-of-the-art training and gym equipment, whilst sponsoring travelling expenses. In 1996, Benny only participated in the annual Frank Frederick athletics meeting, following his final year at secondary school.
“We planned accordingly for that particular meet. Training was intense, and the joy of finishing runner-up to the great Frank was absolutely amazing because in the final, a quartet of juniors raced against their senior counterparts.”
As it turned out, young Benny set personal best (PB) times of 10.4 in the 100m and 20.8 seconds in the 200 metre sprints, ultimately qualifying for the World Juniors in Australia. Certainly, no mean feat for the youngster.
His impressive resume includes several international accolades in the following sequence:
1996 – World Junior 100m: 2nd round 10.57 sec
1996 – PB of 10.2 sec in the 100m, which was a B-Qualification for the Atlanta Olympic Games.
1998 – Commonwealth Multi Sports Games, Kuala Lumpur
1999 – All Africa Games Multi Sports Games in Greater Johannesburg, 100m semi-final
1999 – All Africa Multi Sports Games 4x100m final
1999 – Toured Finland for a month, competing in various high-profile athletics meetings
2000 – Qualify for the Olympics 4x100m
2000 – Tour Finland again for a month
2001 – Read towards a Diploma in Sports Administration and Coaching at RAU (set a SASSU 4x100m record in Port Elizabeth).
Competed in various meeting abroad: Ireland, Hungary.
2001 – World Student Games, Beijing, China 100m semi-final; 4x100m in which they tumbled the Namibian Record.
Life after athletics
The transition after athletics was really tough because in his own words, Benny misses the intensive training sessions under the watchful eye of his mentor, Links. May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace in one piece.
“Watching athletics meetings at school and regional levels was a bitter pill to swallow but after a while, you come to terms with the decision you took.””
The now-retired sprinting sensation is nowadays employed by Novanam, and holds the portfolio of storeman in the engineering department.
Benny is happily hitched to his gorgeous lass, Nicolene, who bore him a pair of equally beautiful daughters – Tashnica and Chiney. He also had a hand in the catering industry, running a restaurant, which unfortunately had to be closed down as a result of the devastating ongoing coronavirus. Benny is planning to venture into a waste management removal and cleaning business, and still hopes to re-open his restaurant in the not-too-distant future.