By John Tuerijama
THE president of the Namibia Cycling Federation (NCF) Ralf Adrian said he has little hope for any Namibian cyclist hoping to walk away with a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games currently underway in Gold Coast Australia.
Namibia has six cyclists at the games and Adrian stressed that it is difficult for any one of the athletes to bring home any medals as the levels of competition seems high.
The Namibian athletes will participate in road cycling – individual time and road race, and in mountain biking or cross country which are scheduled to start on 12, 10 and 14 April, respectively.
“Realistically, it will be very difficult. Especially, the level of competition for men is extremely high to achieve results in the upper half of the field,” explained Adrian.
According to Adrian, the Namibian cyclist were sent to various preparation events ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games such as the African Road Cycling championships held in Kigali, Rwanda in February and the Cross Country World Cup in Stellenbosch, South Africa in March this year.
“Our athletes have worked extremely hard, and also had to fight it out amongst many contenders for selection to the team,” he said.
“We have a very good relationship with the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) and the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) who both have supported us tremendously.
“In three years, we have been able to turn around the wellbeing of our federation through implementing a five year development plan. We developed a good governance structure and creating ways of income, and we have also been focusing towards the commonwealth games for a long time.” The sports’ administrator indicated different stakeholders from the private sector, to the charity organizations Janine and Suzelle Daven Sport Trust assisted in raising the funds for preparation phases of the cyclists. He added that funds were also sourced from the NNOC with the help of the Olympic Solidarity program, and the federation’s funds to prepare the athletes.
“We do not have the total spending record on each athlete.”
Despite the competition level being high at the commonwealth games, Adrian explained that among the six cyclists, he is pinning his hope in the men’s individual time trial in which Drikus Coetzee will participate. “With a bit of luck for the ladies, it will not be impossible to achieve a top fifteen results both in cross country [Michelle Vorster], and road race [Vera Adrian] who are both in top form.”“The good thing is that we experience more and more cyclists competing for selection, which always raises the standard.”
Of the six cyclists, only three represented the country at the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He further rated the women cyclists in the top ten bracket in Africa in their individual disciplines.
“In the men’s field, our athletes compete against professionals riding fulltime on the pro tour, which our cyclists cannot afford. The experience from the Olympic Games in Rio will definitely be an advantage for the athletes and the team.”
For 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan, Adrian said, there will be a shift towards fielding a younger generation whom are already working themselves up to the level. He said that Namibia must be realistic for the 2020 Olympic Games.
“In a small nation like Namibia and its limited support, it will always be difficult to qualify.”
Adrian believes that there is a pool of potential cyclists through the school’s league and other development initiatives and that a lot of young talent is coming up.
“Our junior men group is relatively small but talented, and we are already exposing them to high level competition.”
He said Namibian cyclists were present at the last five editions of the Olympic Games, which as such is an achievement for cycling.
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