ZIMBABWEAN rower Micheen Thornycroft qualified for the quarter-finals of the women’s singles sculls after finishing an impressive second in her qualifying heat at the Rio Olympic Games regatta at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil yesterday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 29-year-old rower, who is competing in her second Olympic Games, clocked a time of eight minutes 18.99 second (18:18.99) in tough conditions to finish second in Heat 1 of the qualifiers, beating the current world champion Kim Brennan from Australia who finished third in 8:22:82.
The opening heat was won by Mexico’s Kenia Lechuga Alanis, who led from start to finish, registering a comfortable win in a time of 8:11:44.
Thornycroft’s time was the seventh best from all the eight heats of the women’s singles sculls and puts her in a very strong position to improve on her overall finish at the London Olympic Games.
In a Facebook post after her race yesterday, Thornycroft said she was delighted to progress despite the very tough conditions.
“What crazy conditions. Happy to have stayed upright and crossed the finish line to make the quarter-finals. Now for recovery for the next race on Tuesday! Thanks so much for all the support, it has been incredible,” Thornycroft said.
The former Peterhouse Girls’ School student finished 10th overall in her first appearance at the Olympics in London four years ago, but judging from her display yesterday, she could even challenge for a medal this year.
Her brilliant start in yesterday’s heats also ensured she successfully avoided the repechage round at the first stage, which allows participants who missed automatic qualification to make a second attempt.
Zimbabwe’s other representative in the Olympic Games’ rowing regatta Andrew Peebles will have to go through the repechage round today after he finished last in the fourth heat of the men’s singles sculls.
The 27-year-old rower, who is making his debut at the Rio Olympics, finished in fifth place in his heat in a time of 7:25.39, but will have another chance of reaching the quarters during today’s repechage round.
In the archery competition, Zimbabwe’s lone representative at the Games, Gavin Sutherland, expressed his disappointment finding the going tough during the ranking round of the men’s Individual Archery competition on Friday.
Sutherland, who is making his Olympic debut, finished last on 64th with 566 points and will need to put on a better performance in the opening round of the individual competition that begins tomorrow.
“I shot my ranking round today and I completely froze up,” Sutherland posted on his Facebook page on Friday. “I couldn’t handle the pressure. I am still smiling, but gutted I could have done better. Thanks again all [for the support]. Now time for the individual eliminations next week and to regroup,” Sutherland said.
Meanwhile, Kirsty Coventry, who carried the Zimbabwe flag during Friday night’s opening ceremony, begins her campaign to become the first female swimmer to win eight individual medals when she competes in the heats of the women’s 100m backstroke at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro today.
The heats of the women’s 100m backstroke gets underway at 6pm (Zimbabwean Time).
In what is set to be her fifth and final games, Coventry — who has won seven of Zimbabwe’s eight Olympic medals since Independence — shares the record of seven individual medals with Hungarian swimmer Krisztina Egerszegi.
But a medal of any colour in Rio could see her becoming one of the first female swimmers to win eight individual medals. Coventry will also be in action in the women’s 200m individual medley and 200m backstroke this week.