By Nicola Gallagher for The Villager
To finish up her with her tour of Namibia, World Champion sprinter Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce attended a dinner at the National Museum of Namibia that was held by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation.
Following the National and AU anthems, the Honourable Maureen Hinda, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, opened the event and described how sports transcend racial, tribal and national differences.
With an introduction from Ricard Goagoseb, the Director of Ceremonies of the event, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce took the stage. Born and raised in Jamaica, Shelly Ann holds 7 World Champion titles and is the reigning World Champion in the 100m. With her recent win at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, she has become the first woman to hold three World Champion titles in the 100m. A decorated athlete, she has won two gold medals in the Olympics in the 100m and countless other medals and titles.
With a big smile, Shelly Ann started by expressing how welcomed she felt in Namibia and that the love and warmth she has experienced here is similar to the support she receives in her home country. She shared her gratitude, “To feel alive in a country that I feel is a home away from home.”
She talked about how it is important for parents to make sacrifices so that they put their children first, because they are the future. Along the same lines, Shelly Ann stressed the importance of investing in the young people so that Namibia and the rest of Africa can come together as a continent.
Continuing to highlight the immense impact of sports, Shelly Ann talked about how athletic successes were on the front pages of the newspapers in Jamaica instead of violence and crime. During athletic events, she talked about how people come together as a community to support athletes.
Shelly Ann trained to be a World Champion sprinter on grass and dirt, since there are only two tracks in Jamaica. She said that Namibia has similar resources and thus athletes have everything they need to be successful.She talked about the importance of focusing on the long term, as success does not happen overnight. Through hard work and determination, she believes that Namibia’s athletes can be successful.
Excited to visit again, Shelly also shared her excitement to return home so that she could tell her fellow Jamaicains about what she experienced in Namibia.
The High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Mr. Issac Njenga Gatitu, then gave a few remarks about sports and its benefit to countries. Citing the socio-economic benefits sports tourism has had on Kenya, he stressed how sports creates a brand and sells a country.
“Sports bring people together. Sports create oneness and sports create bridges,” the High Commissioner said.
Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce has built a bridge not only across the Atlantic Ocean from Jamaica to Namibia, but her hard work and determination has also inspired and united althetes around the globe.
Photos by Raymond Maronje