Athletes must make sacrifices to succeed, says Frankie
KUALA LUMPUR: Former world champion Frankie Fredericks has never been one to mince his words.
So, when he says there is no short cut to success, he means it.
Forget about drugs, steroids, hormone growths and all that crap, he says.
What matters then, you ask?
Fredericks says an athlete’s route to success is littered with sacrifices.
He should know. After all, he spent 17 years in the world of athletics, going through many highs and lows along the way.
The 41-year-old Namibian is here on the invitation of the National Sports Council (NSC).
He gave a talk about his experience and shared his knowledge about the sport with about 80 athletes and 10 local coaches at the NSC in Bukit Jalil yesterday. He later gave some tips on proper leg and hand exercises to about 20 athletes at the NSC training track.
“I sacrificed 10 years of my youth in a bid to win medals in international meets. But today’s athletes are not willing to sacrifice their time or effort. So how are they going to excel in sports?” said Fredericks, who started his athletics career in 1987.
He has bagged four Olympic silver medals – two each in the 100m and 200m in the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Games.
Fredericks became Namibia’s first Olympic medallist when he won the silver medals in both the 100m and 200m in Barcelona.
A year later in Stuttgart, he won the nation’s first gold in the World Championships in the 200m.
He also won three silver medals in the world meet in Tokyo (1991), Gothenburg (1995) and Athens (1997). He also ran the 100m under 10 seconds on 27 occasions.
Fredericks said youngsters aiming to make it big in athletics must be prepared to make huge sacrifices, like giving up their youthful lifestyles, being away from their families, spending hours training on the track and working out in the gym and always watching what they eat and drink.
He added that they were many youngsters in Namibia who had done well at the junior level but failed to shine at senior level.
“Why is that?” he asked.
Simply put, he said, not only are athletes these days not willing to put in long hours of training and giving up on the trappings of modern lifestyles, they also lacked discipline.
“If things continue like this, it will be a long time before any of the national sprinters in my country break my national record of 9.86 in the blue riband event,” said Fredericks, who won the gold medal in the 200m and bronze in the 100m at the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games.
At the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998, he finished second behind Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago in the 100m.
He added that athletes must never be satisfied with their achievements.
Never ever rest on your laurels, he said.
“When I arrived in KL for the Commonwealth Games in 1998, I read an article in a newspaper about Malaysian sprinter Watson (Nyambek), quoting him as saying that he would give his best in the Games,” said Fredericks, who retired from the international stage after finishing fourth in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“And I remember thinking that this person would either shine or break under pressure. He ran in the same heat as me and he could only manage 10.4 or 10.5 while I ran below 10 seconds.”
This, he said, was surprising judging by the kind of world-class facilities available in Malaysia and the financial assistance and incentives provided by the government.
“There are no such incentives from our government for winning medals for the country,” he said.
“Still I trained hard and diligently to bring glory for my country and for the love of the sport.”
Fredericks’ love for the sport and his country never wavered all these years and this has led to him setting up a foundation in 1999 to help young Namibian athletes achieve their goals in life.
Asked whether he had any regrets, especially at not winning an Olympic gold medal, he said: “If you had asked me this in 2000, I would have been very sad. But now, if I combine all the four silvers I won in the Olympics I feel that they are equivalent to the gold medal.”