Forgotten heroes Swartbooi, Nawanga to be honoured

By Michael Uugwanga

FORGOTTEN legendary long distance runner Luketz Swartbooi, golfer Joel Nawanga and retired boxer Frans ‘Rambo’ Hantindi are just some of the few sporting heroes who are expected to be honoured by the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) for their past achievements after years of having been snubbed when it comes to individual awards for athletes that have contributed to sport in the country.

It is however not clear what form of a reward these athletes will be offered.

Swartbooi is no doubt one of the country’s greatest athletes, just like Frankie Fredericks, Johanna Benson, Ananias Shikongo, Helalia Johannes, Harry Simon and many others who have in the past received individual awards for their contribution towards sport.

Swartbooi (54) now an employee at Rehoboth Town Council as a general worker won a silver medal in the men’s marathon race at the IAAF 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany and also set his personal best at the Boston Marathon in the U.S.A. in a time of 2:09:08.

At the 2000 Summer Olympics he finished 48th in Sydney, Australia in a time of 2:22:55, while at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, U.K. he finished in 5th place in a time of 2:13:40. In 1992 Swartbooi won the Rössing Marathon in a time of 2:11:23, a record that still stands.

In 2017, Swartbooi was given the NSC legend award as a token of appreciation, alongside other retired legends but Nawanga and Hantindi did not receive the legendary awards.

Still playing professional golf without a sponsor, Nawanga was the first black professional to emerge out of the country and is also a golf instructor. He boasts a record of 17 amateur titles, including two Namibia opens. In 1998, he received national colours that saw him top the amateur rankings as the number one golfer in the country, a position he held until he turned professional in 2001.

Nawanga has also won many other accolades during his career, amongst others his seventh position in the Botswana Open in 2005, 17th in the Namibian PGA, and in 2008 he finished 121 on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.

Hantindi was the first Namibian boxer to win a Pan Africa boxing title, following his World Boxing Association (WBA) Pan African Welterweight title win in 2001.

Speaking to Confidente Sport about how NSC intends to honour forgotten athletes, chief administrator Freddy Mwiya said the plans to honour retired athletes were already in place before the Covid-19 shutdown.

“We take note of the brother’s (Swartbooi’s) achievement. We are currently working on a data information system to have records on who was awarded and who is still to be awarded. A lot of work is needed as there are many outstanding athletes and administrators who deserve such accolades. Indeed, he (Swartbooi) has done great for this country and I personally respect him for that. All federations’ athletes will be managed on the [new information] system, of which we will have records of all athletes latest before end of the year. This will be a move in the right direction. We want to move away from paper administration and cut cost. We were supposed to be done but Covid-19 affected our plans,” said Mwiya.

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