Olympian Gaby Ahrens, who is one of Namibia’s most-decorated shooters, was at the weekend elected as the new chairperson of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) Athletes’ Commission (AC) in Algiers, Algeria.
Ahrens, who represented Namibia at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics in the women’s trap shooting events, was elected during the first-ever ANOCA AC elections held on the sidelines of the two-day ANOCA athletes’ forum.
The Namibian will be deputised by Cameroon’s Victoire Ngon Ntame, who is a professional volleyballer and represented her country at the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Italy, and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Ahrens and Ntame, as well as the rest of ANOCA AC’s member athletes, will all work hand in glove to represent and address the plight of all athletes across the continent and will both serve directly on the ANOCA executive board.
Following her election, an elated Ahrens said: “It is an honour to be elected chairperson of the ANOCA AC and have the trust of my fellow athletes to represent them at the highest level of decision-making on our continent”.
Amongst the many critical tasks that lay ahead for Ahrens and her team will be to work towards increasing the effectiveness and capacity of ACs in Africa by making use of the National Olympic Committees (NOC) AC activity grants to deliver projects for athletes.
They will also work together with stakeholders in various countries, such as the NOC and national federations, to ensure athletes are supported and represented effectively, and to also leverage the support and programmes from the IOC and Athlete365 and promote these to athletes in Africa.
Another issue that topped the gathering’s agenda over the weekend was to ensure that all athletes are granted the right to participate in international competitions without any form of discrimination, especially in instances where politics is at play.
The gathering also unanimously supported the right of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports to compete in international events as strictly neutral athletes, and not get victimised over the ongoing Russia/Ukraine upheaval.
On the composition of the weekend’s gathering, over 100 athlete representatives from over 50 NOC athletes’ commissions from across Africa gathered in Algiers from 11 to 12 March and received presentations on important topics such as Olympic Solidarity, safeguarding, mental health, anti-doping, and the programmes available to athletes through Athlete365.
Through a mixture of panel discussions and breakout groups, the AC discussed the various opportunities and challenges their athletes face, as well as hearing case studies from fellow athlete representatives on how they were successfully delivering activities for their athletes.
An old-timer in the African sports spotlight, Ahrens has won two African Championship titles in 2011 and 2015 as well as several Namibian, South African and Angolan national titles in Olympic trap shooting.
She was awarded Namibia Sports Woman of the Year in 2010, the same year she won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she was the Namibian flag-bearer – the first woman of her country to receive this honour. Ahrens again competed in the women’s trap at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she finished in ninth place, just one target off the finals.
She has extensive experience in strategic planning, business development, event management, and public speaking, and possesses an executive master’s in sports management.