Two time All Africa Games 400m bronze medalist, Olympic and World Championships semi-finalist Tjipekapora Herunga – Namibia’s top track athlete after the retirement of icons Frank Fredericks and Agnes Samaria – will be the only Namibian representative during the World Indoor Championships in Portland Oregon, USA. She had participated in her first World Indoors as a rookie in Doha 2010, where she set the current Namibian indoor 400m record of 55.40. With the championships just days away Tjipee competed in her second 400m over the past weekend clocking a time of 52.72 for third place during the Seniors Link-Up meeting at the G.C Foster Athletics Stadium in Spanish Town, Jamaica. Jamaican international athlete and world indoor 4x400m silver medalist Anneishia McLaughlin-Whilby won the race in 51.89 along with Commonwealth 400m hurdles bronze medalist and World Championship finalist Janieve Russell in second place in 52.07. This was an improvement from the 53.48 she set during the Gibson relays two weeks earlier.
This time brings her closer to the Olympic standard of 52.20. Tjipee said: “This is an important year for me and I have two important championships to build up for the Olympics. Now I am looking forward to Portland, as it’s always an honour to represent my country therefore the World Indoors and The African Championships in Durban, South Africa are every important as I get ready for Rio. I am well aware of all the negative reporting and comments by people that are suppose to support us. However that does not bother me. For me, it’s to stay focused, healthy and work hard. It’s very tough out here but my beliefs and support from government, family, friends and many Namibians keep me going and hence the aspiration to reach the required standard to represent my beloved Namibia”.
Coach Letu Hamhola said: “I am happy with her progress and performances during such a windy meeting and we are looking forward to Portland. Tjipee has been training well without any injuries and therefore it’s for her to go out there and compete well. It will be Tjipee’s second outing on an indoor track, during which the traditional one (1) lap 400m becomes a tactical two (2) lap race of 200m. All athletes want to avoid the inside lanes as they face what I like to call ‘mission impossible’ and the other athletes in the outer lanes have more of a true feel in the body to an actual 400m.” Meanwhile, in Jamaica attention has turned to the biggest schools competition in the world “Champs” that started Tuesday 15-19 March 2016. Thereafter many seniors will start getting back into competitions and the Namibian athletes will all compete during the Utech classics on the 9 April in Kingston and the 4x100m relay and women 4x400m relays will then proceed to compete in the world oldest relays championships the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, USA from 28-30 April 2016.