By Sports Reporter
SHOTTIST Gaby Ahrens is one of few Namibians who will represent the country at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in September this year. In this interview she speaks about how tough it is to participate in sports without support from the top and the fact that she will retire after Rio 2016.
CONFIDENTE: First of all tell us where you were born and grew up as a child?
GA: I was born and raised in Windhoek.
CONFIDENTE: Why did you choose shooting as a sport and not the popular sport codes such as netball, hockey or athletics?
GA: During school I was involved with Horse Riding and Show Jumping. When I left Windhoek to go study in Cape Town for four years I had to sell my horse before I left. During the holidays I came home and found my father and brother participating at Clay Target Shooting. I joined them a couple of times and found interest in it. I also enjoyed the community and spending time with my family in free time. Once I completed my studies and returned to Windhoek I took up this sport. I have always enjoyed the individual sports more than team sports.
CONFIDENTE: Where did your interest for shooting come from and who played that pivotal role in making you choose shooting as a sport?
GA: Shooting has always been a part of me. My grandparents used to compete in local shooting competitions in target shooting in Tsumeb, my father and my brother also love hunting so I have been comfortable around guns and this sport from very early age.
CONFIDENTE: Looking back at your career, you competed in various world events at continental and global level which of your past events do you rate as huge success and why?
GA: My biggest achievements are 2 x African Championship Titles 2009 & 2015 as well as a Medal at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi India in 2010. Other achievements are national titles, Angolan and South African titles
Both African Championship wins are direct qualifiers to the Olympic Games, which only has 20 spots therefore places you at Top 20 in the world.
The Commonwealth Games Medal needless to say was a huge achievement on the international sporting arena.
CONFIDENTE: What does it take for a shottist like yourself to be disciplined, committed and focused in your career?
GA: It takes drive. Drive that has to come from within. I am very strict with myself and always try to be better than I was yesterday.
I am also very competitive and my sport enables me to enjoy this. So being committed, disciplined and focused comes natural to me. Nobody needs to push me, I push myself to my limits.
CONFIDENTE: How do you feel being one of the very few athletes to have booked a place at this year’s Olympic Games slated for Rio?
GA: It makes me sad that we are such a small team. I am hoping that the nation and our President will finally realise that there are huge problems in the administration and governing sectors of the sport ministry. Funds don’t reach the athletes.
There is no support from the top. Federations are trying their best to pull athletes through but it is not possible without support from government.
Maybe it takes the sad truth and reality of having only three athletes walking into the stadium in Rio for our leaders to realise that something is going terribly wrong.
CONFIDENTE: It was reported last year that you are planning on bidding farewell to your elaborate shooting career after this year’s Olympic Games, is there any truth in it?
GA: Yes this is correct. I have been competing on the international circuit for 10 years, with my debut at the Commonwealth Games 2006 in Melbourne and my final appearance to be at the Olympic Games in Rio.
I feel I have achieved what I wanted to, I have made a lot of sacrifices over the years and so has my family to enable me to compete like I have. My priorities will shift to our family business to give my dad the chance to go on his well-deserved retirement.
CONFIDENTE: Do you think you have accomplished your goal as a shottist looking at the number of medals you clinched?
GA: I have achieved all goals I have set. Yes I feel accomplished which makes the retirement easier. The Olympic medal would be an absolute bonus and I will work hard towards this.
My sport has given me so much and has truly enriched my life. I have seen the world, met so many beautiful people, cultures and beliefs and it has given me an identity. I am also a very proud Namibian and my sport has enabled me to be an ambassador for my country.
CONFIDENTE: What has been the highlight of your career?
GA: To be awarded Sportswoman of the Year in 2010 was a great honour.
It was my goal to follow in my father’s footsteps of winning this award. He won it for soccer in 1976. This title made me very proud.
Also to be the first ever woman to carry the flag for Namibia into the Olympic Opening Ceremony (London 2012) was a great honour!!
CONFIDENTE: What is your advice to the young upcoming enthusiasts who wants to follow in your footsteps?
GA: DO NOT GIVE UP!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015