Born in Windhoek, Frankie Fredericks was awarded a scholarship at Brigham Young University in the USA in 1987. In 1991, after his country had become independent of South Africa, Fredericks could participate in international competition. At the World Championships that year, Fredericks won a silver medal in the 200 m, finishing behind Michael Johnson, and placed 5th in the 100 m.
The following year, at the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics, Fredericks became Namibia's first Olympic medalist when he finished second in both the 100 m and 200 m. In 1993, in Stuttgart, he became the nation's first World Champion, winning the 200 m.
For the 1996 Summer Olympics, Fredericks was among the title favourites for both the 100 m and 200 m. He reached both finals, and again finished second in both. In the 100 m, he was beaten by Donovan Bailey, who set a new World Record, and in the 200 m he was beaten by Michael Johnson, who also set a new World Record.
Suffering from injuries, Fredericks had to withdraw from the 1999 and 2001 World Championships and the 2000 Summer Olympics.