Johannes proud of her achievement

Sport – Athletics | 2021-08-09

by Helge Schütz

AFTER her initial disappointment of not winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Helalia Johannes said she was very happy and proud to have finished 11th in the women’s marathon on Saturday.

Johannes finished in a time of two hours 31 minutes 22 seconds – four minutes and two seconds behind the winner Peres Jepchircher of Kenya, while Brigid Kosgei of Kenya came second, 16 seconds behind, and Molly Seidel of the United States third, 26 seconds behind.

The president of the Namibia Olympic Committee, Abner Xoagub initially reported that Johannes was distraught and in tears after the race since she so badly wanted to win a medal, but by Saturday evening, she had recovered and expressed pride in her 11th position.

“I’m very happy with what I achieved at this event, because it was very hot and humid and it’s not the same weather that we trained in during winter back home. I came 11th out of 73 athletes who finished the race, so I’m very happy and I’m also happy about my people back home who were cheering for me, and being awake in those early hours to watch me, I appreciate that very much,” she said.

Organisational problems at the water points saw her missing her special drink supplements at the first three water points, when the volunteers mistakenly put a Mongolian athlete’s drink on her table.

“I missed my drink at the 5km, 10km and 15km water points – just imagine in these weather conditions without drinking your special drink supplements, in this heat and you are losing so much water and minerals, and you cannot replace anything, it’s not easy,’ she said.

“The official at the event placed my special drink at the wrong table of the Mongolian athlete, so I missed it at the 5km table which was the first station for special drinks, as well as at the 10km second table. At the 15km table the Mongolian athlete’s bottle was still on my table so I decided to drink a bit, because my body was dehydrating, and I wasn’t sure if I would still get my own drink,” she said.

“But I thank God when I reached 16km, my coach was there and I managed to get my drink and drank it,” she added.

A further mishap occurred at the 30km mark when she once again missed her drink.

“At the 30km mark I missed that drink as well, because the volunteer could not recognise me from far and only saw me when I was passing him. He tried to reach out to me, but it was too late and the race was speeding up and I didn’t want to be left behind,” she said.

Despite all her travails, Johannes managed to complete the race, receiving plaudits from Xoagub.

Ït was quite remarkable that she managed to complete the race in 11th position, which is still a major achievement. We are proud of her and I hope she will still continue with her career,” he said.

Johannes, who turns 41 on 13 August, however, said she needed a bit of time before making that decision.

Ït’s still too early to say,” she said.

Tomas comes 42nd

In the men’s marathon yesterday, Rainhold Tomas came 42nd overall in two hours 18 minutes and 28 seconds, which was 9 minutes 50 seconds behind the winner Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

It was a great effort in the stifling hot conditions that saw 30 of the 106 starters pulling out of the race, with only 76 completing it.

Tomas started off slowly, but made steady progress as the race developed.

By the 10km mark he was lying 68th overall, 34 seconds behind the early leaders, and by the 21,1km half way mark he had moved up to 59th position, 1:30 behind the leaders.

Tomas continued to move up the field in the second half of the race as the heat started taking its effect, with many athletes slowing down or dropping out altogether.

Kipchoge, meanwhile, stepped up the tempo at the front to take the sole lead, as he gradually pulled away from the rest of the field.