He had thrown over 85 metres this year, but on the big day, Rocco van Rooyen just couldn’t get it together and missed out on a place in the javelin final.
CAPE TOWN – He had thrown over 85 metres this year, but on the big day, Rocco van Rooyen just couldn’t get it together and missed out on a place in the javelin final at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old from Bellville, who is a full-time pastor, was not able to train properly and compete in international competitions in the lead-up to the Olympics due to a lack of sponsorship.
Van Rooyen paid his own way for an event in Finland in late May and early June, and even opened up a Backabuddy page to raise funds. But he had to cut his trip short after just two events – where he threw 80.73m and 82.55m – as he received around R38,000 of his R80,000 target.
He was able to get a sponsor to cover his personal expenses while he competed at the Olympics as he had to take unpaid leave from his work as a pastor, but the lack of competitive action over the last few months showed during the qualification round in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Van Rooyen, who threw a personal best of 85.97m in Parow in February, and followed it up with another big effort of 85.25m to win the South African title in April, was considered a certain finalist before the competition as he was ranked eighth in the world this year.
But it just didn’t happen for him on Wednesday, as he was unable to reach the 80m mark.
His first attempt of 77.41m was his best throw on the day, which was followed by 74.40m in the second round, as he tumbled to the ground – as many other throwers did, including German superstar Johannes Vetter.
Van Rooyen didn’t register a distance in his final round, and bowed out of the competition, placing 13th in Group A and 23rd overall, having also missed out on the final at Rio 2016, where he threw 78.48m.
A distance of 83.50m was required for automatic qualification to Saturday’s final, but only six athletes achieved that mark, which meant the remainder of the field competed for six more spots. The last of those qualifiers was Kim Amb of Sweden, who threw 82.40m – which would normally be well within Van Rooyen’s range.
India’s Neeraj Chopra topped the standings with his only throw of 86.65m, with Vetter – who has a personal best of 96.29m from earlier this year – battling in his first two attempts, only qualifying automatically with his final mark of 85.64m.
Meanwhile, in the women’s 10km marathon swimming event, South Africa’s Michelle Weber finished in 21st position in a time of two hours six minutes and 56.5 seconds (2:06:56.5).
The 24-year-old Weber had fought back to 17th position just after the halfway mark at the 5.2km intermediate point, but finished seven minutes and 25 seconds behind gold medallist Ana Cunha, who clocked 1:59:30.8.
The Netherlands’ defending champion Sharon van Rouwendaal was less than a second behind to take the silver medal in 1:59.31.7, while Kareena Lee of Australia clinched the bronze in 1:59:32.5.
Weber had finished in 18th position at the 2016 Rio Olympics in a time of 1:59:05.0.