Team Namibia’s Tokyo Olympics campaign kicked off on a lukewarm note over the weekend, with rower Maike Diekmann surviving a late scare to reach the singles sculls semi-finals, while road cyclists Vera Looser and Tristan de Lange both failed to finish their respective races.
Diekmann was the first athlete to get Namibia’s campaign underway on Friday in the women’s singles sculls race, where she finished third in a time of 07:56:37 to automatically qualify for the quarterfinals during the opening heats.
On Saturday, she faced tough competition but managed to row herself into the top-10 of the race when she finished fifth overall in a time of 8:21.69.
With her fifth place, Diekmann did not qualify for the final 12, but secured a semi-final C/D spot, featuring rankings between 13 and 24. She is set to compete in the semi-finals on Thursday.
In this race, the first three finishers proceed to the C Final, while the remaining rowers proceed to D Final.
Yesterday, Looser had a strong start in the women’s road cycling race, breaking away from the peloton around the Fuji International Speedway – but as the race wore on, she eventually fell back and failed to finish the race with some kilometres left.
She was swept off the course by the broom wagon – the vehicle that follows a cycling road race and picks up stragglers who are unable to make it to the finish within the time permitted.
Fellow cyclist De Lange on Saturday suffered the same fate in the men’s road race when he also failed to finish his race. De Lange had an impressive first half of the race, managing to work himself up into the front pack.
He, however, started falling behind the leading pack and never managed to recover with about 122km to the finish line. The broom wagon squad also came to his rescue.
Action continues today for Team Namibia, with mountain biker Alex Miller set to compete in the men’s race, while fellow mountain biker Michelle Vorster will be in action tomorrow in the women’s race.
The mountain bike cross country race features a mass start and multiple laps, with the first rider to complete the required laps winning gold. However, riders whose time is 80% slower than that of the race leader’s first lap are eliminated.
Impressive performances are expected from Nino Schurter from Switzerland and Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds, who both won gold at Rio 2016. - firstname.lastname@example.org