The South African athletics team spent almost 36 hours on air to reach the Tokyo Olympic Games village in Japan, connecting in Ethiopia and South Korea after departing from O.R Tambo International airport in Johannesburg. This is according to the University of Johannesburg (UJ) shot putter, Jason van Rooyen.
During the trip, a COVID-19 contact tracing was in the mix, adding to the long hours of travel. However, as soon as the travel stuff was done with, their stay in Tokyo was properly enjoyed – from sleeping on comfortable Japanese beds and enjoying the diverse Asian cuisine to a summer day competing with the world’s best athletes.
Although van Rooyen did not make the finals in shot put after finishing 19th with a 20.29m throw, this was a learning curve for him. “I am not 100% happy with my performances, I feel that I could have done better. I mean you can imagine, I had almost about three months without competing since the University Sport South Africa (USSA) championships in mid-May and here I was expected to perform at my optimum level.
“Competing in the qualification group A and B stages is actually tough, but once you make it into the top 12 finalists it’s easier though you still have to perform for a top 3 spot against the world’s best throwers,” says van Rooyen.
For van Rooyen, it was a dream to compete in the Olympic Games. He hopes to use this experience and work harder to qualify and do well in the next Olympics. Before jetting off to Japan, van Rooyen gave an impressive performance in the 2021 USSA Championships in mid-May when UJ held the competition at the Athletics Stadium. In the competition, he equalled the South African record of 20.40m throw in shotput.
Together with UJ Sport staff member Taren Naidoo and hockey player Kristen Paton, van Rooyen will be sharing his Tokyo Olympic Games experience at the UJ Sport Conference which will be held on 19 and 20 August 2021.