Johannes smashes recordBy: HELGE SCHUTZ
HELALIA Johannes posted a new national record with her two hours, 26 minutes and nine seconds 12th place finish in the 2012 Olympic Games women’s marathon yesterday.
Johannes shaved off over a minute of the 2:27:20 that she set in Vienna, Austria, three months earlier.
Compatriot Beata Naigambo finished 38th overall in 2:31:16, and although she had to receive medical treatment when she collapsed after the race, she recovered after a while.
The race was won by Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia in a new Olympic record time of 2:23:07, while Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya came second in 2:23:12 and Tatyana Petrova of Russia third in 2:23:29.
“The race was not that easy because it was raining and I was struggling with all the corners but I was just trying my best and I thank God for that. My target was to go with the front group until the halfway stage. I stayed with them until the 25km mark and that’s why I managed to break the Namibian record,” said an elated Johannes, who, as she crossed the finish line sank to her knees and kissed the ground several times to demonstrate her joy.
“I was so excited when I finished and that’s why I kissed the ground, because I was thanking God for that. I wasn’t even expecting that I would break the Namibian record because the weather was terrible and there were too many corners and it was not easy for me to run that fast,” she added.
Her performance is arguably the best of by a Namibian at the London Games and drew praise from Sport Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo.
“It was phenomenal. I watched the race from the beginning to the end, step by step, and was so proud of our athletes. They were running in the spirit of solidarity, they were sharing their water and carrying one another. That’s how teamwork must be – there was no selfishness or greed,” he said. “It was a fantastic performance by these athletes, it was euphoric and unbelievable. They were competing against the best but their passion and determination were unbelievable.
“I told them before the race, you must run with the wind, be part of the wind and in the end they beat the wind. I am so proud of our athletes,” said Kazenambo.
Tjipekapora Herunga bowed out of the Olympic Games when she came sixth in the first semifinal heat of the women’s 400m on Saturday in a time of 52,53 seconds.
With only the top eight athletes of the three semifinal heats going through to the final, Herunga was well down the line and out of contention for a place in the final.
Sanya Richards Ross won in 50,07, followed Christine Ohurugu of Great Britain in 50,22 and Rosemarie Whyte of Jamaica was third (50,98) to clinch spots in the final.
Herunga’s time was well outside her personal best time of 51,24 that she set in Pretoria earlier this year.
Nonetheless her coach Letu Hamhola said he was happy with Herunga’s performance.
“The most important thing is that you give your best. She gave everything that she had and that is important – not to come out and say I could have done this or that, it’s just for us now to go back and work harder,” said Hamhola.
Herunga also said she was happy with her first Olympic performance.
“The weather was good and I ran well and at least I made it to the semifinals. Even though I didn’t make it to the finals, I know at the next Olympics I will be there because this is only my first Olympics and I made it to the semifinals so now I’ll just go back and work hard.”
Herunga said it was a great experience to run against the top athletes in the world.
“It was a good experience running against the best athletes in the world like Sanya Richards Ross and I know the next time I will be ready for her... I know that young people in Namibia will now look up to me and work hard just to be where I am now,” she said.
Gaby Ahrens shot a round of 59 out of 75 to finish 22nd overall in the qualifying round of the Olympic Trap shooting competition on Saturday morning.
Ahrens started off well enough, shooting 20 out of 25 and 21 out of 25 in her first two rounds. But the pressure got to her as she shot a last round of 18 out of 25 to finish last out of the 22 competitors in the qualifying round.
The standard of competition was extremely high as the winner of the qualifying round, Jessica Rossi of Italy, set a new world record of a perfect 75 out of 75 points.
Ahrens’s husband and coach Gielie van Zyl said afterwards they were happy with Gaby’s performance, although it was not her best.
“We are competing against the best in the world who are all professional athletes and we have to go back home now and we have to go and work and find our finances to travel again and to get our priorities in order to see where we want to travel and where we will achieve the best scores overseas.
Van Wyk said that the pressure got to Ahrens, but she performed well under the circumstances.
“Obviously there was a lot of pressure, there are big stands and we are not used to the circumstances, of thousands of people looking over your shoulder. So there’s obviously pressure but I think she coped very well until the end and Im very happy.”
Namibia now has only two remaining athletes at the Games.
Wrestler Sem Shilimela will be in action on Friday in the 55kg men’s freestyle competition and Marc Bassingthwaighte will compete in the mountain bike event on Sunday.