Diekmann in semi-final race

29 July 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK

Namibian rower Maike Diekmann is set for the semi-final C/D race at the Tokyo Olympic Games today.

The Namibian will not be competing for a medal but will rather race for better ranking. She finished fifth in the quarter-finals, which means that she gets the chance to race for a 13th- to 24th-place ranking.

Diekmann will go up against Puerto Rico’s Arana Toro, Trinidad and Tobago’s Felice Chow, Serbia’s Jovana Arsic, Sweden’s Lovisa Claesson and China’s Wing Yan Winne Hung. The race will start at 05:00.

If she makes it through, she will again compete on Friday in the final. Diekmann lives by the philosophy: “If you have a big goal in life, it will feel out of reach for so long, but you must just keep on going. A lot of people will doubt you, but it's the passion, it's the heart, and it's the hard work. Nothing comes easy, but if you put in the hard work, luck will always be on your side on your journey.”

Dreams are valid

Indeed, the 27-year-old Diekmann is living testimony of her philosophy. Many might not know, but her journey has taken her from a farm in the semi-arid Namibia to the waters of neighbouring South Africa and the top rowing courses in the world.

Growing up near Otjiwarongo, Diekmann was never exposed to rowing or any other water sports, for that matter. Her curiosity got the best of her in her third year of studies at South Africa’s Rhodes University.

She narrated how she was put in the smallest boat. “The single sculls, straight away, which I think, when looking back, was the best thing,” Diekmann recalled.

She said she had to learn in what is considered the most difficult boat. “It is unstable, it is just you and no one else helping you balancing the boat. So, I learned quickly about the basic things in the stroke, even though it was such a new sport and I had never been exposed to something like this.”

Diekmann represented Namibia for the first time at the 2015 African Olympic qualification regatta in Tunisia for Rio 2016. She missed out on qualification, but the experience alone served as validation of her newfound dream.

“I remember that clearly because that was after nine months of rowing, and there I was racing for Namibia. That was exciting, and it was a big step in my career where I realised this was something I wanted to take further and get better for Namibia and see if I can qualify for the Olympics one day,” she said.

And qualify she did. Diekmann thanked her supporters on her social media. “Thank you so much for all the messages, calls, and videos. It has been incredible hearing from all of you,” she said.

-Additional info: Olympics.com