HAITENGI, 34, HAS WON NUMEROUS TRIPLE JUMP COMPETITIONS OVER HIS ATHLETIC CAREER, TAKING HOME HIS FIRST MAJOR MEDAL, A BRONZE, AT THE 2014 AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS. Namibian athlete and head of UJ’s Athletics Club
Roger Haitengi is a Namibian triple jump medalist, manager and coach of UJ’s Athletics Club, which under his guidance, has established itself as one of the leading track and field clubs in Gauteng. Haitengi, 34, has won numerous triple jump competitions over his athletic career, taking home his first major medal, a bronze, at the 2014 African Championships. He set a national record for the triple jump at 16.78 m, at the African Athletics United (AAU) UJ Athletics & Nkwalu Invitational in 2016, and is yet to be beaten. Haitengi’s athletics talent was “late to bloom”, he says, as growing up in Windhoek, there were very few athletics coaches, and even fewer who were specialised in triple jump. “I played rugby and soccer, but my first formal coaching in triple jump only started when I was 16”, he says. Haitengi graduated from high school in Windhoek in 2003 and got a scholarship to study at Tshwane University of Technology in 2004. In 2006, after he won a silver medal for long jump in the SA Student Sports Union (SASSU) championships, and was awarded a UJ sports bursary, he enrolled for a NDip Marketing, which he completed in 2007. He then joined the Engineering Faculty at UJ to do a BTech Management Services,
He followed up with an MTech in Operations Management (Industrial Engineering) at UJ, which he completed in 2017. “I plan to go into industrial engineering in a few years, but at the moment, I’m very happy where I am. I was rewarded by the opportunity to train and develop young athletes. I didn’t get the best start – most athletes were ahead of me when I was younger – but I’ve learnt a lot, taking the positives from each coach I’ve had along the way, and doing a lot of research to improve my performance. Now I can give back and get these athletes on the right footing to make a career out of it. A lot of scholarship students who have trained under me are now on the rise”, he says. Born in Poland, Haitengi returned to Namibia with his Polish mother when he was six years old. “I could speak Polish, but not English or Afrikaans”, he says. Haitengi and his younger brother were raised by their mother, who is also academically accomplished. “My mother got a Master’s in Economics and worked for the Namibian National Council. She is still there. She gave us the basics of our educational discipline and value system. My brother is also doing well in Namibia. He is in IT software development”, says Haitengi.
With the Cambridge International Examination (CIE) school qualification, and having done well in maths, Haitengi found the transition to Tshwane University quite easy. Two and a half years later, when he enrolled at UJ, his mother advised him to finish his degree, however long it took. She said that after my degree, I’d be better prepared to decide my path. “Like her, I’ve always worked hard and consistently to achieve my goals. I don’t like failure”, he says. Industrial engineering is the right choice, he says, as he is naturally drawn to business operations and processes in industrial development in South Africa. “South Africa is a great place to be exposed to engineering, as there is plenty of growth and opportunity in this field”, he says, adding that he continually reads and updates his knowledge. Meanwhile, Haitengi’s life is a full- time routine of coaching, training and participating in competitions. He recently returned from the Commonwealth Games, where he came third in the qualification round of the triple jump event, and took eighth place overall in the final. His next big goal is a medal in the 2020 Olympics.
finishing it in 2014, the same year he was appointed UJ athletics manager.
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