Noble managing expectations after repechage disappointment

Saturday July 24 2021

Kathleen Noble and Ugandan coach Rodrick Muhumuza carry her boat to the Sea Forest Waterway earlier today. PHOTO/COURTESY

By Makhtum Muziransa

Ugandan rower Kathleen Grace Noble is still in high spirits and chasing more at the pandemic delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo despite missing out on the quarterfinals earlier today.

The 26 year old US-based finished 5th (8:21.85) in her heat yesterday and hoped to make it to the quarterfinals through a repechage today.

Noble's had already made history by becoming Uganda's first rower at the Olympics yesterday. From as far as Tokyo, Japan- she could feel the love from the rowing community back home - as she also hopes to inspire and draw publicity through her time at the summer games. 

In the repechage, she was up against Cuba's Milena Cancio Venega, who returned 8:03.00 from Heat 5, and Hong Kong's Winnie Wing Yan Hung, who clocked 8:17.79 in Heat 3. 

The race was also interesting for Noble's ambitions to finish the competition as one of Africa's fastest competitors as it also had Claire Ayivon, who represented Togo at Rio 2016 but clocked 8:48.07 in Heat 4, and Sudan's Esraa Khogali who clocked 10:18.27 in Heat 1.

The day started with a warning of things to come as the day's competition was rescheduled to start 30 minutes early as a storm is predicted to hit Tokyo sometime today.


Noble, who showed at the USA Independence Regatta in Philadelphia on July 3 that in enabling weather she can race under eight minutes, was "in high spirits" according to her coach, Ahsan Iqbal, and "definitely knew that it would take a good race to qualify for quarterfinals" against the Cuba and Hong Kong boat.

Too close 

Noble, however, almost immediately sailed into and got entangled in the buoys hence losing time and speed. She consequently played catch up but managed to race past Ayivon to finish third in eight minutes, 36 seconds and one microsecond.

Going by there heats performance, Venega (8:17.30) and Hung (8:23.58) also felt the full force of the winds but made their way to the 24-man quarterfinals while the others dropped to the semifinals E/F, from where the goal now is to finish top of the lower placed 12 rowers (chasing rankings from position 25 to 36).

Noble, on her part, was making no excuses when interviewed by local radio Ssanyu FM earlier today but was also sure to manage her expectations going forward.

"My race was disappointing. It was a slow start but I managed to move forward past the girl from Togo.

Tomorrow, the goal is to make it to the E final. The girl from Qatar (Tala Abujbara) is fast and I think I will finish second," Noble, who is currently on course to finish as the second placed African in the regatta behind Namibia's Maike Diekmann, said.

Abujbara managed 8:06.29 in her heat yesterday and 8:16.85 in the repechage today.

The Qatari and Ugandan will be joined by Nigeria's Esther Toko and Sudan's Khogali in the first semifinal E/F tomorrow morning.



Repechage Results

1. Milena Cancio Venega (Cuba) - 8:17.30

2. Winnie Wing Yan Hung (China HKG) - 8:23.58

3. Kathleen Noble (Uganda) - 8:36.01

4. Claire Ayivon (Togo) - 9:04.23

5. Esraa Khogali (Sudan) - 10:25.94

*Top 2 from the repechage qualify for the quarters. Others fall to semifinals E/F.