Commonwealth rowers ready for action in Walvis Bay

Beach sprints championship
The Commonwealth Beach Rowing Championship was officially launched in Walvis Bay.
Nikanor Nangolo
Independence beach in Walvis Bay is the venue for the 2022 Commonwealth Rowing Association (CRA) Beach Sprint Championships sponsored by the Namdia Foundation.

The event which is taking place from 2 to 4 December, will see more than 20 international athletes from over 10 countries participating in four categories including the women's coastal single, men's coastal single, mixed double and team relays. The winners will be presented with gold, silver and bronze medals. Participants will also receive unique Namibian souvenirs to remember the country.

The championships is co-hosted by the CRA and the Namibian Canoe and Rowing Federation (NCRF). The minister of Sports, Youth and National Services, Agnes Tjongarero said in a speech delivered on her behalf by the Erongo regional governor Neville Andre, that the event is the first of its kind for Namibia. "It will undoubtedly bring development in the sport to Namibia and Africa alike. The Namdia Foundation will also play a big part in developing coastal rowing in the coming years with their financial support. I am therefore encouraging athletes to register teams and participate in the sport."

The minister paid tribute to the pioneers of Namibian Rowing, Christoff Sneider, Christy Benade of Oanob Dam and Anton Jacobie. "Thank you for your support to grow Namibian Rowing, especially flat water rowing. Competing at a Commonwealth event is a truly unique opportunity for both rowers and coaches wishing to represent their nation at the highest possible level. Different nations have sent teams looking to perform with distinction at the Commonwealth Rowing Association Beach Sprints Championships hosted here at Independence Beach in Namibia. We are all aware that the sport started developing in 2010, here in Namibia. Since then, the country has taken baby steps to put in place the required infrastructure and develop talent, which saw Maike Diekmann, being the first Namibian at the 2020 Olympics to be an Olympian flat water rower."

Tjongarero also extended a word of appreciation to World Rowing for their generous donation of ten rowing boats with a combined value of N$1.1 million. "We thank you and we will use these boats to further develop the sport in Namibia."

The president of NCRF Mike Haimbodi challenged the youth to join the Coastal Rowing Project which will be established at Independence beach after the championship and gave the assurance that the donation of the rowing boats to Namibia will not go to waste. "Coastal rowing is here to stay and to grow. Our success will be judged by how many Olympians, continental and world champions we can produce from this project. I know it's not going to be an easy road but come 2025, Namibia must have a team to be reckoned with. To achieve this we need support from all stakeholders here in Walvis Bay and beyond."

The mayor of Walvis Bay Trevino Forbes hailed the championship as an excellent opportunity for our local sportsmen and women to take up the concept of rowing, promote the sport amongst school children and the youth and empower the rowing community of Namibia. "I am confident that this event which is an international event with 12 Commonwealth member countries involved, will have a positive economic impact on the harbour town and the Erongo region at large."

The president of Commonwealth Rowing, Peter Cookson, said that the mother body expect to see a very strong coastal rowing programme in Namibia as a result of what is happening in Walvis Bay this weekend. He also expressed his gratitude towards the organising committee as well as the sponsors for coming on board to make the event possible. According to the

NCRF general secretary Theo Tjiueza, the organisation is planning a Beach Sprint for mid-2023 in July or August with landlocked neighbouring countries in the Southern African Development Community. He explained that the NCRF is a member of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and is also a continental affiliate of the Confederation of Africa Canoeing (CAC), the Commonwealth Rowing Association (CRA), the Africa Rowing Federation (FASA), and the World Rowing Federation (WRF).