Thursday, May 7, 2009

Namibia National Olympic Committee Announced Tough Standards for 2010 CWG

Namibia National Olympic Committee Announced Tough Standards for 2010 CWGThe Namibia National Olympic Committee announced strict new qualifying criteria for Namibian athletes who want to qualify for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India. At a press conference in Windhoek, NNOC president Agnes Tjongarero said they had decided to raise the standards to improve Namibia’s competitiveness at the highest level.

“If you look at the countries that won gold medals at the last All Africa Games, most of them could not even win bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games, which means that we will have to try harder. If we as a country cannot even make it at the All Africa Games, why do we even bother to go to the Olympic Games? That is why we have adjusted the criteria, if you cannot reach these levels, and then just try harder for next time,” she said.

According to the criteria Namibian athletes will have to be ranked amongst the top two in Africa in all the codes. Besides that, the qualifying criteria for certain individual codes like athletics and swimming have been set at a high level.

Swimmers, for instance, will have to reach 850 FINA points per event, while they will have to qualify twice at internationally recognized events. The 850-standard is much higher than even the qualifying standard for the 2009 World Championships of 650 points. A record eight Namibian swimmers qualified for this year’s World Championships which will take place in Rome in August, but national swimming coach Ryan Skinner said he doubted whether anyone would qualify according to the new criteria.

“It’s a huge increase and there’s definitely a concern that that will be too exclusive with the time frame involved. We’ve only got 18 months to prepare and that sort of improvement in standard may lead to nobody being able to make the standard. I think it’s a good idea that the FINA points are lifted over time to gradually improve the standards and to let everyone be aware that more is expected of them, but that sort of improvement in standard might end up leading to despondency amongst our swimmers,” he said.

Tjongarero stuck to her guns, saying the standards would remain.

“It would be regrettable if none of the swimmers qualified, but we have to try and reach it. What’s the use if we come last – we don’t want to embarrass anyone? Let’s try and get there, and if not, it’s not the end of the world. There will be more events coming up like the 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique,” she said.

Meanwhile, athletics in Namibia faces a quandary since Namibian athletes will not be able to qualify for events since the world governing body, the IAAF, does not approve anyone in charge of Namibian athletics.

Since Athletics Namibia’s aborted presidential elections in November last year, athletics has been run by an Interim Committee, but the IAAF said that it didn’t recognize the Interim Committee. It said it would send a delegate to Namibia to sort out the impasse, who was supposed to arrive in April. According to Tjongarero the delegate will now only arrive in May.

“We received a letter from the IAAF saying that they did not recognize anyone running athletics here in Namibia. Our athletes can only qualify by competing at IAAF-recognized events, but someone who is recognized by the IAAF has to enter our athletes. We asked them if the Interim Committee can enter our athletes, but it seems that their delegate will now only arrive in May and in the meantime our athletes are suffering because they cannot compete,” she said.

At the same event Tjongarero handed over a sponsorship of N$10 000 to the Namibian Bowling Association so that it can compete in an international competition, the Atlantic Rim Tournament in South Africa in May. Namibia will compete against some of the top bowling nations from the Atlantic rim like England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the United States, Brazil and Canada at the event.