NAMIBIA’S Olympians have reacted with dismay, but understanding following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Cyclist Dan Craven, who was only selected a week ago by the Namibia National Olympic Committee to represent Namibia in Tokyo said it was necessary.
“It’s unfortunate, but necessary. It’s also impacting much more on others than on me, so I can’t complain,” he said.
“I think it will elevate the Olympic Games once it takes place again. When it happens it will be even more important globally, since it will give the world a sense of normalcy when it returns,” he added.
Craven, who has been training in Omaruru where he stays on their family farm, said he would have to adapt his training programme a bit now.
“I’ve been taking a bit of a break from training with the idea to rebuild for later in the season, so now I’ll just extend it a bit more. I’ll have to become more creative – I’d like to start racing soon, so I might just do some time trial races on my own,” he said.
“The Olympics will still happen, they haven’t said when, they just said at the latest next summer, so it could still happen this year if all goes well,” he added.
“It’s completely the right decision. For instance one of my friend’s girl friend had to stop swimming now, because all the pools are closed. I’m very fortunate out here because I’m not really impacted by it,” he said.
Namibian rower Maike Diekmann said she had mixed feelings about the postponement.
“I guess it’s the right decision, but I’ve worked so hard and put in so much effort, training and planning. But now it will give me more time to prepare and it gives me another chance to get better and faster over the coming year. But still, it’s tough – I was very excited and looking forward to competing at the Olympics this year,” she said.
“With South Africa going into lockdown, I’m on the road now leaving Pretoria for Port Alfred where I will stay for two weeks to train. My training will be scaled down a bit, it won’t be so tough anymore, but I will continue. I hope it will be under control soon so that I can get back to my normal training schedule,” she added.
Diekmann has been in great form and even won an international rowing competition where rowers compete on rowing machines and enter their individual times earlier this month.
“Each year World Rowing holds a virtual indoor rowing championships where everyone can compete. I won my category, I was very happy because I didn’t expect that, but not everyone entered, it so it’s not a very accurate gauge of my world ranking at the moment,” she said.
Marathon athlete Helalia Johannes said she was disappointed but that it was the right decision.
“I am disappointed, I was hoping to go to the Olympic Games this year, but it’s important to postpone the Games in terms of health,” she said.
“My training has been affected and I won’t be able to train in a group like before. Our coach can’t reach all the athletes, because we are not in the same spot where we usually trained before. Everyone is affected, but it’s good in terms of health – it might cost a lot of lives, so we must accept it, it’s just a part of life,” she added.
Johannes recently competed in Japan to defend her title at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, but dropped out after about 22km due to a hamstring problem.
“I had a bit of a hamstring problem and I didn’t want to aggravate it. It was also raining a lot and the weather was not so nice, but I have now recovered and my hamstring is fine,” she said.
“I used to go to the gym and the physio, but I don’t know if I can continue doing it because I can’t go and train where many people come together. So I’m not in the gym, but I’m still jogging on my own,” she added.
Mountain bike rider Michelle Vorster tried to look for the positives of the situation.
“I’m obviously disappointed, but on the positive side now there is more time to prepare. I recently got a new coach, so I’d love to spend more time to work with him. I’ll just look at the bright side – now I get a bit more time to follow my dream,” she said.
“I’ll continue training, but I’ll just adapt my programme a bit. I’ll spend more time on base training to improve my strength for the next two months and then I’ll just sharpen up my race training again,” she added.
Vorster has also been in fine form and recently jumped 63 places on the world rankings after finishing seventh overall at the Andalucia Bike Race in Spain. After the most recent international races her world ranking has since dropped two places to 146.