Nam gets into Tokyo groove

Limba Mupetami


Namibia’s Olympic hopefuls have started to refocus on the multi-sport event which was initially scheduled for July this year, but was postponed to 23 July to 8 August 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic not only halted the Games, but so many other sports events like the Africa Cup of Nations as well as the World Athletics Championship, which was due to take place in August 2021, but has now been pushed back to July 2022 to avoid clashing with the re-scheduled Games.

Marathon runner Helalia Johannes, cyclists Vera Adrien and Dan Craven, boxer Jonas Junias and rower Maike Diekmann have gotten back on the saddle, hoping for competitions that will allow them adequately prepare for the Games will be staged.

This while many countries have cautiously started to regroup and organise competitions as lockdown regulations begin to ease up.

Measures will help

The organisers said they will set a series of measures for next year, fit for a post-Covid world.

The International Olympic Committee’s coordination commission has proposed 50 measures to simplify the Games and to provide an example of how future Olympics should be streamlined.

Proposed ideas include reduced invitations for both the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympic Village, a shorter period for training venues and fewer officials having access to official bus services, instead of relying on public transport, among others, according to international media.

“These optimisations and simplifications mark an important step towards delivering a safe and successful Games in 2021,” said John Coates, the chairman of the Tokyo 2020 coordination commission.

“We owe it to the public to enact these measures during these challenging times; that’s why we’ve left no stone unturned and will continue to look for further opportunities over the coming months.

Unique task

“The unique task of reorganising an Olympic Games has called for the Olympic movement to be stronger together – this milestone illustrates our collective commitment.

“The ‘Tokyo model’ will not only deliver a Games fit for a post-Covid world, it will become a blueprint that will benefit future organising committees for many years to come.”

He added that the cost-cutting measures took into account the Games’ stakeholders and infrastructure, among others.

Slow and steady

Despite Coates assuring words, the worries of Namibian athletes still haven’t been soothed. However, they believe it’s better to use a slow and steady approach to get back into ‘Games mode’.

Namibian marathon queen Johannes’ coach, Robert Kaxuxwena, said “the plan is to start early with preparation for the Games. I have started training already with the athletes; by early next year they will be in form to compete internationally”.

He further said he is taking Johannes through her paces slowly to avoid injury.

Recover and reset

Meanwhile, Adrien said she doesn’t have fixed plans on how to get back into shape for the Games.

“I still have four races in the next four weeks and then I will take four weeks to recover and reset. I will start training again in the middle of November. It will be winter by then in Europe, so not many races will take place. I will try to do part of my preparation in Namibia as well. The goal is to be at my best when the Olympics happen next year,” she said.

On how preparation has been going for him, Junias said he needs to get into a high training centre “as soon as possible”.

Not confirmed

While cyclists Alex Miller and Michelle Vorster’s spots have yet to be confirmed, Miller said preparations are going well. “We have been lucky enough to be allowed to train outside. I have taken a step back from training and will only intensify and build a stronger base next year. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to participate in many international events lately to see what my shape is like. But I’m using this time wisely to prepare as best as I can, no matter the circumstances.

“Fortunately, with the new Covid-19 regulations, few events are coming up soon and I’m really looking forward to racing again,” he added.