Ugandan rower Kathleen Grace Noble is one race away from knowing her final position in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics women's single sculls.
The 26-year old has had a gruelling three days at the Sea Forest Waterway which have culminated into her booking a spot in Thursday's Final E at the regatta.
"I was happy with it as I got into a good rhythm and managed to stick with Qatar but I need to work on my starts because that is where she got me," Noble said after finishing second (8:31.67) in semifinal E/F behind Qatar's Tala Abujbara (8:24.24) and ahead of Nigeria's Esther Toko (9:07.70) and Sudan's Esraa Khogali (10:23.52).
The four were grouped together after they unsuccessfully tried to make it to yesterday's quarterfinals, which had the best-placed 24 boats, through the repechage events on Saturday.
The repechage, in which Noble had to make up ground after being swept into the buoys by the crosswind to finish ahead of Togo's Claire Ayivon and Khogali but unfortunately behind Cuba's Milena Venega and Hong Kong's Winnie Hung, also came after a tough heat session in which she went up against double world champion Sanita Puspure and Greece's World U-23 Champion Anneta Kyridou, among others, on Friday.
The stark difference in experience can also be explained by the fact that by the time some of the names she has come up against were headed to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Noble was preparing to follow up on her 2014 promise to coach Rodrick Muhumuza, that she would row for Uganda, by returning home from Princeton, US, to change her orientation from a rower that had just learnt the sport as a member of a university eight team to a single sculler.
Noble, who is on course to achieve one of her goals as one of Africa's top rowers in Tokyo - just behind Namibia's Maike Diekmann - "feels the excitement of the rowing community in Uganda" and, speaking to Sanyu FM on Saturday, promised to return during the Christmas holiday to "set up camps and work on collaboration to develop the sport."
Where to for rowing after Tokyo?
The former swimmer born in Uganda to Irish missionary parents, expressed her displeasure about the lack of proper competitions at home and boats - donated to Uganda Rowing Federation (URF) by the world rowing governing body Fisa in September 2020 grounded at customs.
"The Minister (State for Sports Hamson Obua) has promised that he will settle that matter when we return from Tokyo," Muhumuza said.
Daily Monitor has learnt that the equipment, worth $48,716 (about Shs173m), is sitting at Multiple ICD warehouse in Ntinda, where it has been accruing storage fees too, as URF push for a tax waiver.
Uganda Revenue Authority publicist Ian Rumanyika confirmed to this paper that a waiver is feasible as "government has given all these exceptions on ambulance and tourism boats and so many tourism equipment. Why would they not support the sports sector if there is proper case developed?"
Noble said: "It's a shame having them out there gathering dust yet our rowers struggle to have equipment." She urged the federation to "get rid of ghost clubs that have no athletes but only turn up to vote and stop sidelining clubs like Kampala Rowing and Kisubi Pirates that are active.
Equipment donated by Fisa
-2 CP single coastal boats
-2 CP double coastal boats
-2 CA para AS & recreational single rowing boats
-6 CB single rowing boats
-6 CB double rowing boats
-1 fully fledged flat carbon seat
-1 complete back support Mark 3
-6 sets of 4 tabs with 8x45mm hex screws, hex nuts, washers to attach seats and backs to C2 machines
Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Women's 2000m single scull
Thursday (3:06am) - Final E | Start-list
1. Esther Toko Nigeria
2. Sarah Fraincart Morocco
3. Evidelia J. Gonzalez Nicaragua
4. Tala Abujbara Qatar
5. Kathleen Noble Uganda
6. Joan Poh Singapore