The 400m Athletic Legend
Francis Uatema is another example to prove through hard work, determination and a positive attitude dreams become a reality. His journey started in 2010 when a teacher forced him to participate in the 400m athletics . It reached a high point in Jamaica in 2015.
Francis Uatema was born on 5 February 1996 at Otavi and moved to Walvis Bay, Narraville in 2002 to attend his first grade at Narraville Primary school.
At school in athletics he won gold in 100m and 200m. During his first year at De Duine Secondary School, “strict” Mr Bester, a former teacher at the school, forced him to participate in the 400m athletics.
Bester saw his potential and believed the young sprinter would excel in the 400m. After some time he decided to run and won the gold.
From that day onwards Uatema’s athletic career changed dramatically. So much so that since that very day up to his matric year he consecutively won gold in the 400m.
But Uatema did not stop there: in December 2014 he traveled to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe for the Zone 6 Championship and came 4th in the finals. Also in 2014, he won the title as Namibia’s fastest Junior in the 400m. He achieved a personal best (Pb) of 47.3secs.
This opened the door for a Government scholarship to study in Jamaica. There he was exposed to World- and Olympic champions. To mention a few: Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Elaine Thompson and Nesta Carter.
For several years Uatema had to walk everyday to attend athletics practice at Walvis Bay Private High School.
“One thing that kept me going was to become something or someone in life”, says Uatema.
He received intensive training from coach Belinda Oberholster whom he regards as his second mother. Oberholster’s unconditional support throughout and her realising his talent will always be part of his life.
In 2015, he won both Grand Prix’s in Windhoek and Swakopmund. Ac-cording to him this was his toughest races, especially the one in Windhoek during the Senior Nationals in April where he had to compete against the “speedy” Ernst Narib who was the defending 400m National Champion.
“We were two athletes striving for the 400m title. It was an intense challenge, but luckily I managed to pull through”, says Uatema.
During his stay in Jamaica in 2015 he was trained by Jamaican legendary coach, Stephen Francis whom according to Uatema is the best. Francis is known for making athletes from “zero to hero” Olympic stars.
It is not all coaches who can do this.
In 2016 he traveled to the United States of Americato represent Namibia in the relay event for 200m along with Adiel, Hitch and Gilbert. Competing in one team they managed to break the Namibian re-cord for the 200m relay.
During July Uatema had to return to Namibia, after encountering funding difficulties from the Government. Jamaica was also “not his thing”. He added though his opportunity in Jamaica was an experience of a lifetime, especially training amongst world star athletes & world class coaching staff.
This year he wishes to focus more on his education while taking a break from sports. In 2018 he will be back in full swing, when he plans to practice at the High Performance Center in South Africa during holidays, to prepare himself. He wants to qualify for the Common Wealth Games in April 2018.
A wisdom from Uatema is success is 2% practice and 98 % is mental preparedness. “Your mind determines the outcome. You can practice intensive, but if you do not have the right mindset [accompanied by faith] you will not achieve success’.”
During his training he does different types of sprints and tries to incorporate the same speed in all of them.
Uatema is inspired by people who faced difficulty, but managed to raise above the challenges. He gave as examples: Cristiano Ronaldo and Sylvester Stallone.
Uatema’s daily routine includes speed & en-durance workouts, strength exercises, studying and 15-20% he dedicates to his social life.
He is most thankful to his mother, since she always went out of her way to provide him with whatever he needed.
“Everything is possible when you work towards your goals. Hard work and discipline is a very important key towards reaching your goals. I went for training daily because I believed good would come of it and that’s exactly how it turned out.
I came from “nothing”, started very small and if I can, then I believe everyone else who has equal determination can also achieve that”, concluded Uatema.