Sarah Etonge, one of the greatest Sawa woman athletes
Perhaps one of the greatest athletes of all time is a Bakweri Woman, Sarah Etonge. The ´Mount Cameroon´ race may not be as famous at the New York marathon, but it is much more grueling, and Mrs Etonge is the undisputed queen of that race.
Crowned Dr. Of Mountaineering
By Francis Tim Mbom
The ´Queen of the Mountain,´ 39-year-old Sarah Liengu Etonge, seven-time winner of the Mount Cameroon Race Hope, was on Saturday, March 12, awarded an honorary doctorate degree in mountaineering by the President of a Buea-based NGO, Professor Emeritus Dr. Lydia Luma of the Cameroon Education Corporation, CEC.
The conferment ceremony was one of the highlights of an English language spelling contest dubbed Spelling Bee Cameroon Contest and organised by CEC.
The contest took place at the Parents National Educational Union, PNEU, school field at Bota in Limbe.
In an opening address presented by Dr. Ernest Luma Molua of the Department of Economics at the University of Buea, he hailed the outstanding achievements of Dr. Ms. Etonge in recent times.
"To be seven-time winner of the Mount Cameroon race is a phenomenal achievement. In fact, her exploits have preoccupied the national and international media in recent times," Molua said.To Molua, Etonge´s marks on the tracks of the Cameroon Mountain in Buea as seven-time winner, have come through the virtue of rare stamina and stoicism; embroidered with a spirit of enviable endurance in the midst of very daring odds.
"She has mastered the science of climbing and descending mountains. She has taught us lessons of endurance, competitiveness, vision and the determination to conquer, albeit the odds," Molua added.
In a rather didactic note, Molua said that like Etonge, we all need that spirit of endurance as a key to success in our own daily endeavours; be it in school, college or university or in our various walks of life. "Endurance is the ability to stay on despite the odds...regular practice develops endurance," said Molua.
In another inescapable note, Molua said Etonge´s record today was also a result of the virtue of the deep passion she has for her mission. He said Cameroon is suffering today because of the dire need for men and women endowed with a passion in either nation building or achieving set goals and objectives.
"We have to change the Cameroon mindset about sports and embrace the benefits of sports, especially mountaineering. Etonge has taught us that the treasures and pleasures of sports outweigh the troubles involved."
Dr. Etonge In Joy
The honoured female mountaineer of all time, in a word to The Post expressed happiness at CEC who had bestowed her with a rare crown."I´m very happy, especially for this award," she said.
Albeit her age, Etonge told The Post that she was yet to let her legs rest from the mountain tracks. "I will continue running even at the age of 50. It is good for me. I love it," she said.
She said her resolve to continue was not hinged on the urge to make money, but just to keep fit if her health permits.As to what has been the magic behind her success, she explains: "Working hard is the only key. A good athlete needs to keep fit all the time."
Asked if her rivals on the mountain tracks like Catherine Ngwang and the young Immaculate Ntari have ever threatened her, she said no.She said she has had ten participations, with seven wins to her credit. For the other three, she came variously in the second, third and fourth places.
She said a bad knee last year was the main reason why she came in fourth, her worst performance so far. Besides the mountain, the athlete said she has represented Cameroon in several international marathons in countries like Gabon, Senegal, France and Switzerland.
In the Swiss marathon, she said she came 12th as a female out of some 6000 athletes, while in Dakar