Namibia is famous for its great marathon runners, but not only. As Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) president, Abner Xoagub, said recently, the country has intensified preparations for their athletes headed to the forthcoming Olympic Games to be hosted in Tokyo. And, by the look of it, the efforts put in are paying off as national star Phillip Seidler was one of the 15 swimmers that clinched an Olympic ticket this weekend in Setubal (POR).
Amongst the 55 men who raced at the FINA Marathon Swim Qualifier, on Sunday June 20, Seidler finished 14th by clocking a time of 2h03m11s0, and managed to secure the only remaining African quota. Hong Kong’s William Yan Thorley touched home right after him in 2h03m11s20 and secured the Asian slot.
Following his victory. Seidler said in an interview with The Namibian: “It's such an honour, and I'm very happy to put Namibia on the world map. I can't wait to meet all the Namibian Olympic teammates.”
I've trained for seven years. I have sacrificed seven years of my life for this moment, eating healthy and training hard. I've had 60 to 70 km swims per week, plus gym sessions. It was worth the effort.”
As the fastest African outside of qualification in 25th spot to secure continental qualification, he added: “The race was mentally and physically very tough. My race strategy for the first five kilometres was to swim fast, but at a comfortable pace, so that I can save as much energy as possible. The last five, I was building up to have an even faster finish, because you overtake a lot of people, which I did.”
“They prepared me as best as they could. They told me it's the most difficult race. It's harder than the Olympics, harder than the world cup or world champs, because these are the last few spots available for the Olympics and the swimmers will do anything in the world to get that spot,” he told the Namibian press.
Phillip Seidler, 23, had claimed the 2021 South African Open Water Swimming Olympic Trials bronze medal in the 10km event, in 1h55m06s44, back in March this year, which made him eligible for the FINA Marathon Swim Qualifier 2021.
After being rewarded with an Olympic berth, Seidler said: “Believe in yourself and dream big. If people aren't laughing at your dreams, then your dreams aren't big enough. If you believe you can do it, then you will. That's what I've believed for the last eight years, and I did it for this moment.”
Seidler is Namibia’s number one open water swimmer who often secures top places in races across southern Africa. He took part in the FINA / CSNG Marathon Swim World Series #2 in the Seychelles in 2019 as well as the 18th FINA World Championships Gwangju 2019.
Other African athletes taking part in the Tokyo 2020 Marathon Swimming event include Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli (TUN), Michael McGlynn (RSA), Michelle Weber (RSA) and Souad Nefissa Cherouati (ALG). The success of these younger talents demonstrates the ever growing popularity of the discipline in the African continent and the commitment provided by their respective National Federations to promote Aquatic sports.
Full results are available here
The men’s race in Tokyo will take place on August 5 in Odaiba Marine Park.