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Frankie Fredericks

Frankie Fredericks and his wife Jessica Fredericks attend Skating game-Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace on 14 February 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by John Berry)
Namibia's legend and ambassador of ''Good Will'', Frank Fredericks was born on 02 October 1967 in Windhoek, Namibia.  Frankie began running at age 13 and he had a passion for both athletics and football. He grew up in Windhoek with his mother, Mrs Ricky Fredericks whom he adopted the parental surname. Frankie hailed from the family with the genes of sportsmanship his biological mother “Aunt Rickey” herself  she was an athletic who professed both in netball, tennis and football. Frankie and his long-term fiance Jessica whom together they blessed with two children, a son and daughter.  

Personal Life

Frankie's mother: Aunt Rickey she was a sporty woman whom we could say she was just the ''Mother of Sports''. She was fondly known in sports circles amongst her adoring followers. A staunch supporter of Black Africa football club, Frankie's mother served as an executive committee member of the Gemengde outfit stretching over decades, Aunt Rickey has made her mark in the wider domestic sports arena. She played a significant role in the development of tennis and netball in Namibia alongside with madam Marlie Snyman.

Today she is no more with us! Sadly, the adorable lady and mother of sports succumbed to the heart attack at the age of 77 and passed on two years ago in July 2017. She left her son Frankie, daughter-in-law Jessica, two grandchildren ( grandson and granddaughter),two elder sisters Sarah and Aletha Peterson.  As much as we sharing this reminiscence of our beloved mother, friend and sporting colleague let's pay homage to the foundation she has left with us; in the iconic of Frankie Fredericks.

Understandably, it is inevitable that Aunt Rickey’s name would always be linked to her famous son Frankie Fredericks as in this case. She took dozens of athletes under her wing transforming them from potential astray boys into gentlemen and women of dignity. Amongst them are: Lucky Boostander, George Martin, Kandas Paulinho, Willem Wermann, Five Hochobeb, Theo Shekupe, Vossie van Wyk, Indies Damaseb, business mogul Sidney Martin and a score of learners from the St Joseph’s Secondary School (Dobra). 

Aunt Rickey she was just like a woman who possessed rare magical potion of parental touch and transformation whenever young sophomores were out of order, be it on the football pitch or in the streets, the ‘Iron Lady’ would iron them with authority. Such was the respect she was accorded that even those hardened self-proclaimed toughies in the hood would listen to her very carefully. Frankie was made to share whatever he could with others. A woman of substance, Aunt Rickey was indeed the unofficial ‘Poster Girl’of Namibian football giant, Black Africa FC.  

Utah, United States

Back to Frankie Fredericks: After completed high school he joined Rössing Uranium Limited as a marketing associate. In 1987 Frankie Fredericks was awarded a scholarship from Brigham Young University (BYU) in the US to study Computer Science and also complete his Master's in Business Administration, majoring in Finance and Marketing.  The scholarship was organized by religious organization All.America. It came when his attention, was not on studies, but on athletics. At that time then Namibia was under South African apartheid administration, that automatically made him ineligible to compete internationally.

Frankie grabbed the opportunity and used the freely political environment in US to hone his skills while at Utah university, when he left when Namibia got independence on 21 March 1990 he was fully prepared. Namibia was allowed back into international competition after independence. At the World Championships in 1991, Frankie won a silver medal in the 200 meter sprint, finishing justly slightly behind Michael Johnson with few seconds.

Athletics Career

During his first year at BYU, he won as the bests of 10.32 and 20.57. In 1989 he was sixth (10.20w) and third (20.42), improved to third (10.23w) and second (20.32) the following year before capping his collegiate career with a double 10.03w/19.90w win in 1991 to become the first non-American to capture the demanding NCAA sprint double. He also won the indoor 200 crown that year.

Running in the 100 metres and 200 metres, he won four silver medals at the Olympic Games (two in 1992 and two in 1996), making him Namibia's first and so far only Olympic medalist. He also won gold medals at the World Championships, World Indoor Championships, All-Africa Games and Commonwealth Games. He is the world indoor record-holder for 200 metres, with a time of 19.92 seconds set in 1996.

Winners of the 200 meters (L-R) Barbados' Obadele Thompson, silver, Namibia's Frank Fredericks, gold and American Kevin Little, bronze, show their medals after the awarding at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Maebashi 06 March 1996 (Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi)
Frankie won the gold with 20.10 seconds with championships record. He has broken 20 seconds for the 200 metres 24 times. He also holds the third-fastest non-winning time for the 200 metres. In August 1996, Frankie ran 19.68 seconds in the Olympic final in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also the oldest man to have broken 20 seconds for the 200 metres. On 12 July 2002 in Rome, Fredericks won the 200 metres in a time of 19.99 seconds at the age of 34 years old.

American sprinters Michael Johnson (L) and Marion Jones (second from R) clasp South African President Nelson Mandela's hands, while Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks (R) peers over Marion Jones's shoulder at the President's home Genadendal in Cape Town 25 March 1992/Getty.
The following year, at the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics, Frankie became Namibia's first Olympic medalist when he finished second in both 100 m and 200 m. He won the silver medal in the men's 100-metre dash, with a time of 10.02 seconds, just .06 seconds behind the gold medal winner. In 1993, in Stuttgart, he became the nation's first World Champion, winning the 200 m. At the 1994 Commonwealth Games, he won gold in the 200 m and bronze in the 100 m. His time of 19.97 seconds in the 200 metres in Commonwealth Games record.

At the 1995 World Championships 100 m, he crossed the line and after he immediately went to help his friend Linford Christie who pulled a muscle in the race and signalled for help. This act of kindness endeared him to many (particularly British) athletics fans. For the 1996 Summer Olympics. He reached both finals, and again finished second in both.

At the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Frankie once again missed out on the chance of gold in the 100 m; he was beaten by Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago. Suffering from injuries, Frankie had to withdraw from the 1999 and 2001 World Championships, and the 2000 Summer Olympics. Frankie won the 200 m at the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in 2003. In the 200 m final at the 2004 Summer Olympics he finished 4th. He had run the 100 m under 10 seconds 27 times, remained the best in world history until today.

2001 World Silver – African Double

Upon his competitive departure from Provo, his international impact was immediate. He completed another double that season, sweeping the sprints at the African Championships, having already struck silver in the 200 at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo after finishing fifth in one of the finest 100 metre races ever, clocking 9.95.

Namibian Olympic Fist Gold Medalist

In 1992, he grabbed two silver medals at the Barcelona Olympics, claiming the first Olympic honours for the newly independent Namibia. He continued to blossom in 1993, winning 11 of his 14 finals over 200 metres, capped by a world-leading 19.85 to win the World title in Stuttgart. His knack for medal collecting continued the following year with his first Commonwealth title in the 200, a bronze in the short dash, and a World Cup win in the 100. In 1995, he again won silver in the World Championships 200 metres.

 Johnson’s Challenge (19.68 Record)

1996 he set world records in the indoor 100 (10.05) and 200 (19.92) metres in Tampere and Lievin respectively; both records still stand. He prepped for the Olympics with a 9.86 win in Lausanne, at the time the third fastest performance ever. In Oslo, he broke Michael Johnson’s two-year win streak in the 200. With a  9.89, he was nearly as fast in Atlanta, where he broke Donovan Bailey’s 9.84 World record to relegate him to the second place.  Frankie's biggest challenge was Michael Johnson’s legendary world record of 19.32; Frankie’ 19.68 still ranks him as the second fastest ever over the distance. He ended his season with nine sub-20 second clockings, more than any other athlete has produced in a single season.

Namibia's Brave Warriors will face Eritrea in the 2022 (FIFA) World Cup qualifiers on 4 September.
The medal collecting continued! The following year he collected another silver medal in the 200 at the World Championships, ran bests of 9.90 and 19.81, and ran nine legal sub-10s, also a record. In 1998 he added a Commonwealth silver in the 100, and gold and bronze in the 100 and 200 at the World Cup. The following year he added another World title to his credit with a win in the 200 at the World Indoor Championships.

Injury Ruins Two Seasons

While still in top form, suddenly an injury restricted him to just one race in 2000, sidelining his Olympic gold aspirations. He came back in 2002 to win another Commonwealth 200 title before ending his season with a silver medal in the World Cup half lap. He finally showed signs of slowing in 2003, but still managed an early season best of 10.00 in Durban, South Africa and qualified for the World Championships final in the 200 in Paris where he finished seventh.

Namibian sport legends Frankie Fredericks in October 2017 he received the first ever MTC Sports Legends prize.
Olympic Games
  • Silver medal – second place 1992 Barcelona   100 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1992 Barcelona   200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta 100 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta 200 m

World Championships
  • Gold medal – first place 1993 Stuttgart 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1991 Tokyo 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1995 Gothenburg 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1997 Athens 200 m

World Indoor Championships
  • Gold medal – first place 1999 Maebashi 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1993 Toronto 60 m
All-Africa Games
  • Gold medal – first place 1991 Cairo 100 m
  • Gold medal – first place 1991 Cairo 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 2003 Abuja 200 m
  • Bronze medal – third place 1999 Johannesburg 100 m
Commonwealth Games
  • Gold medal – first place 1994 Victoria 200 m
  • Gold medal – first place 2002 Manchester 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1998 Kuala Lumpur 100 m
  • Bronze medal – third place 1994 Victoria 100 m
Goodwill Games
  • Bronze medal – third place 1994 Saint Petersburg 200 m
  • African Championships in Athletics
  • Gold medal – first place 1998 Dakar 200 m
  • Gold medal – first place 2002 Tunis 100 m
  • Gold medal – first place 2002 Tunis 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1998 Dakar 100 m
  • Representing Africa (orthographic projection).svg Africa
World Cup
  • Gold medal – first place 1998 Johannesburg 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 1994 London 200 m
  • Silver medal – second place 2002 Madrid 200 m
  • Bronze medal – third place 1998 Johannesburg 4×100 m relay
  • Bronze medal – third place 2002 Madrid 4×100 m relay

After retirement in 2004 Federicks became a member of the International Olympic Committee. In 2009 Frankie became the head of the Athletics Namibia in what dubbed as a controversial leadership contest. In 2012 Frankie was nominated to be a member of the International Olympic Committee in Athens, Greece.  On top of that Frankie Fredericks is a member of the ‘Champions for Peace’ club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organisation.

After tendered his retirement from running the world finally bid adieu to one of the most respected and talented athlete, a farewell tour that last on October 2009 was organized travelling half the globe include the visit at Buckingham Palace. Now, Frankie would spend the greater part of his life at the pinnacle of his craft, a record for longevity nearly unprecedented in the sprints. From Athens, Now York, Brussels, Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, Oslo, Durban, Abuja, to Monaco, he celebrated by standing ovations he will be greatly missed in the world of sports, although he still actively in sports administration.

Frankie Fredericks had been guest of honor invited to the world-class religious ceremonies and royal wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco, blushing shoulders with Princess Charlene Wittstock in the main courtyard at the Prince's Palace in Spain, attended by the guest list of global celebrities and heads of state. The Roman-Catholic ceremony follows the civil wedding which was held in the Throne Room of the Prince's Palace of Monaco on 01 July 2011.

Frankie Fredericks and wife Jessica at IAAF Centenary Dinner, Guildhall in London on 02/08/012
Frankie Fredericks’ Foundation (FFF)

His volunteer efforts and patronage at home over the past decade led to the formation of the Frank Fredericks Foundation in April 1999. The foundation, aimed at developing young athletes while at the same time affording them the opportunity to complete and further their education, was launched by then Prime Minister [ now Namibian President Hage Geingob ] in Windhoek.

“It is a very emotional event for me,” Geingob said, “partly because we are so proud of Frank’s achievements on the sports field and partly because of his humility as well as his commitment, and dedication to his country and its people. I know well that people with the kind of extraordinary talent that Frank has,” Geingob continued, “are very often tempted to stay in the West for financial reasons or for the state of the art facilities. But, Frank chose to come back home to impart to the young people of his country his skills.” Frankie is also a patron of the Katatura Youth Enterprise Center (KAYEC), an organization that teaches entrepreneurial skills to young men and women.

This was Frank Frederick's gesture to say 'thank you' to the Namibian people for all the support that he has received from them during his sporting career.  Frankie has received sponsorships which have helped him to reach many of his goals. Through the foundation, he gives scholarships to the promising athletes of Namibia. To date, the foundation has given scholarships and donations worth over N$300 000. Samsung, Namibia Beverages through their Coca Cola brand are the official sponsors of the foundation since its establishment. Additional information from the FFF website.

Since 2009 the foundation has already sponsored six athletes with N$30 000 and sports equipment worth about N$19 575 to four rural schools. The athletes who received the scholarships as part of the foundation's core initiative to help them academically include Hardus Maritz, Merilyn Diamond, Dantago Gurirab, Klaudia Moses, Otllie Shiyakela and Jolene Jacobs. Shiyaleka and Jacobs were assisted with N$3 000 each for their coming academic year, while the rest received N$6 000 each to pursue their careers. Maritz competes in the 110-metre hurdles as well as the 100-metre sprints, while Diamond, Gurirab and Jacobs are 200-metre athletics. Shiyakela does the 400m sprint, while Moses is a long distance runner who does both the 1 500m and the 3 000m. 

The FFF also identified five schools in rural Namibia to benefit from sports equipment the foundation acquired from donors and other partners. The Huigub Primary School received equipment worth N$6 600, the Ombombo Primary School in Opuwo received items to the value of N$1 735, while another one also from Opuwo, Ondjondeka Primary School got equipment value at N$5 815. The Omuhaturua Primary School in Gobabis benefited from various items valued at N$5 425, bringing the total amount of goods to the five schools to N$ 19 575. Additionally, two athletes Markus Alerilwe and Corlia Kruger, both long jumpers, each received N$3 000 from Samsung which is now one of the official sponsors of the foundation. 

Frank occasionally, he give motivational lectures to both youth and adult audiences. His hobbies include music, literature, soccer and relaxing with friends. ''The sport’s given me a lot,'' ''It’s now time to give back.'' Frank said. He’s also worked diligently over the years on behalf of his fellow athletes, as a member of the IAAF’s Athletes’ Commission, as the African Athletics Confederation (AAC) Athletes’ Commission Chairman, and as the Namibian National Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission Chairman.

The announcement of his retirement drove emotion among his fellow athletes. In 2012 Frank was honoured with special position in Athens by electing him to the Athlete’s Commission of the IOC. The IOC in turn put him right to work, making him a member of the evaluation committee for the Olympic site selection.  He’s leaves many options open whether to join politics back at home. However, he refused  “No way,” Frankie said, laughing. “Switching to politics would be foolish for me, because I would like to stay popular.” 

At IAAF press conference aheead the Bahamas IAAF 2015 Frankie Fredericks was asked a question: What are your memories of the 1996 Olympic Games 200m final?  He said ''I think Michael brought the best out of me.'' ''I’m from a small country where not many people know where it is, and to become one of the fastest men in the world is quite an achievement.'' ''I was training hard every day because I was sure somewhere else other people were training hard.'' ''Michael was a 400m specialist, I was a 100m man so I had to find out what he was doing and that’s why I started longer runs, I could have been content to just have been the African record holder and not work as hard so that’s why these two (Johnson and Boldon) brought out the best in me.'' Frankie said.

''The other thing about Atlanta I remember is that they made us walk to whole 200m, I don’t know why; and everybody was chanting “Michael”! They were killing us mentally.'' ''I was ready that day but that’s when I realised it’s always good to run in front of a home crowd.'' ''When I came off the bend, Michael found another gear, I don’t know where he found that gear and I think it was probably those 80,000 people that pushed him in chanting echo''. At that point, I knew the race was finished and just worried that Ato was going to come past me. I’m happy to have been part of that race and to have been someone who made him think the night before that there was someone in that race that could give him some problems. (If the Olympics were in Namibia, then he would have won!)

Bribery Investigation 

On 03 March 2017, Frankie was implicated in the IAAF corruption scandal, stemming from a large cash payment apparently he received. French newspaper Le Monde reported that Frankie was under investigation for a $299,300 USD payment from Pamodzi Sports Consulting, a company owned by Papa Massata Diack (the son of disgraced former IAAF head Lamine Diack, who is still facing corruption charges in France). The payment went to Yemi Limited, a company set up by Frankie in the Seychelles, a tax haven, and was made on 02 October 2009, the same day as Rio was announced as the winning bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Frankie has denied that the payment has anything to do with the Olympic bid, but instead says it was fees paid for consulting services he provided for "a relay championships" and marketing programs related to an African championships and other IAAF programs. When the allegation was made Fredericks was the chair of the 2024 Olympic bid evaluation committee. On 06 March 2017, Fredericks stepped down from his position in the IAAF task force that is evaluating if or when to re-admit Russia's national sport body RusAF after a widespread doping scandal.

 On March 7, 2017 the Ethic Commission of the IOC recommended a provisionally suspension of Frankie from his IOC-related duties. Prior to the IOC Executive meeting Frankie while maintaining his innocence withdrew from his position as the Chair of the 2014 Olympic bidding process "in the best interests" of the process. Still some sport analysts believed that someone have been paid to blackmail Frankie so that he could lose the evaluation post in the IOC.

Hear from the man himself: Frankie Fredericks

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