A Namibian team of 28 athletes will be out to emulate their predecessors when the 21st Commonwealth Games start on the Gold Coast, Australia on Wednesday.
But it won’t be easy, as they will be up against about 4 300 athletes from 71 nations and territories who will all be vying for top honours.
Since Namibia’s independence in 1990 they have competed at the quadrennial event on six occasions and have put their country on the map with some admirable performances.
At Namibia’s first participation in Victoria, Canada in 1994, legendary sprinter Frank Fredericks won Namibia’s only two medals – a gold medal in the 200m sprint and a bronze medal in the 100m sprint. Namibia finished 18th overall out of 63 competing nations.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia four years later, Namibia won three medals consisting of two silver and one bronze medal.
Fredericks won a silver medal in the 100m, while Lynn Lyndsay-Payne and Cathy du Plessis also won silver in the Women’s Pairs lawn bowls competition.
Elizabeth Mongudhi also won a bronze medal in the women’s marathon, while Namibia finished 25th overall out of 70 competing nations.
Namibia’s biggest medal haul came at the 2002 Games in Manchester, England when they won a total of five medals, with the evergreen Fredericks leading the way with a gold medal in the 200m.
Namibia won a further four bronze medals through Agnes Samaria in the women’s 800m; the welterweight Paulus Nuumbembe and the featherweight Joshua Veikko in boxing; and pistol shooters Friedhelm Sack and Boelie Malherbe in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol Pairs event.
Namibia finished 23rd overall out of 72 competing nations.
In Melbourne, Australia in 2006, Namibia only won two medals, but they achieved their highest ranking after coming 17th out of 71 nations.
Jafet Uutoni became the first Namibian boxer to win a gold medal when he beat Darran Langley of England in the 48kg Light Flyweight final.
Friedhelm Sack also won a bronze medal in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol category.
In New Delhi, India in 2010, Namibia won one silver and two bronze medals, while they finished 27th out of 71 nations.
Jafet Uutoni once again excelled to reach the light flyweight final, but this time he had to settle for a silver medal after losing a close final to Paddy Barnes of Northern Ireland.
Gaby Ahrens won a bronze medal in the Women’s Singles Trap Shooting event, while Johanna Benson won another bronze medal in the T37 100m Para event.
In Glasgow, Scotland in 2014, Namibia once again won one silver and two bronze medals.
Boxer Junias Jonas Junias won a silver medal in the light welterweight category; while Namibia’s para-athletes added two bronze medals. Johanna Benson and Lahja Ishitile both came third in the women’s T37/38 long jump and T11/12 100m categories respectively.
Namibia’s biggest medal hopes will be boxer Jonas Junias Jonas, who will be one of the favourites in the light welterweight category and para-athlete Ananias Shikongo who won a gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Namibia’s other boxers are light flyweight Mathias Hamunyela and lightweight Tryagain Ndevelo. Namibia will be strongly represented in the marathon, with six of their eight athletes competing in the 42.2km event.
Helalia Johannes, who came 12th at the 2012 Olympic Games, will be Namibia’s best hope for a medal in the women’s marathon, where she will be joined by Ndeshimona Ekandjo and Lavinia Haitope, while Paulus Iiyambo, Reonard Namupala and Uveni Kuugongelwa will compete in the men’s marathon. Namibia’s other two track athletes are Roger Haitengi in the triple jump and Hardus Maritz in the 400m hurdles.
Six cyclists will represent Namibia in cycling with Michelle Vorster and Vera Adrian competing in the women’s events and Dan Craven, Martin Freyer, Drikus Coetzee and Tristan de Lange competing in the men’s events. De Lange will also compete in the mountain bike event.
In lawn bowls, Namibia will field strong men and women’s teams with 2003 world champion Douw Calitz joined by Will Esterhuizen, Kabous Olivier and Graham Snyman, while the women’s team consists of Sheena du Toit, Lesley Vermeulen, Anjuleen Viljoen, Marietjie van den Bergh.
Namibia’s other competitors are JP Burger in the triathlon and Robert Honiball in gymnastics.