Tjipekapora Herunga bowed out of the Olympic Games when she came sixth in the first semifinal heat of the women’s 400m on Saturday in a time of 52,53 seconds.
With only the top eight athletes of the three semifinal heats going through to the final, Herunga was well down the line and out of contention for a place in the final.
Her heat got off to a hectic start as Sanya Richards Ross set a blistering pace to take the lead, and by the halfway mark Herunga was well down the field.
She improved on the home final straight but was well behind Richards Ross, who won the heat in 50,07 seconds.
Christine Ohurugu of Great Britain came second in 50,22 and Rosemarie Whyte of Jamaica third in 50,98 to clinch spots in the final.
They were followed by Yulia Gushchina of Russia (51,66), Joanne Cuddihy of Ireland (51,88) and Herunga (52,53).
Herunga’s time was well outside her personal best time of 51,24 that she set in Pretoria earlier this year.
Herunga’s coach Letu Hamhola said he was happy with Herunga’s performance.
“We planned from the beginning to take it round for round. We got through the first round and then in the semifinal we got a fast draw. It was a fast race with Sonja in there - she’s been a world champion before - but Tjipe went in there and I’m happy for what she has done and I can’t wait for Brazil 2016 because I know we will be back and we will be much better than we were today.”
Hamhola said the most important thing was that Herunga gave her best.
“You don’t always run your personal best times because this is a championship and it’s not always easy because there’s always pressure involved. The most important thing is that you give your best. She gave everything that she had and that is important - not to come out and say I could have done this or that, it’s just for us now to go back and work harder.”
“A sixth place in the semifinals - thats not bad. We weren’t in Beijing, we were not even at the Commonwealth Games, and last year at the World Championships she went out first round and that was more disappointing. But now we are at the semifinals so now it’s up to us to take that step forward to make finals and to come into contention for medals,” he added.
Herunga said she was happy with her achievement.
“The weather was good and I ran well and at least I made it to the semifinals. Even though I didn’t make it to the finals, I know at the next Olympics I will be there because this is only my first Olympics and I made it to the semifinals so now Ill just go back and work hard.”
“It was my first time running here at this packed stadium and for me it’s a good experience and I’m so happy that I got a chance to come and participate here at the Olympics and I am thankful for that. So I want to thank the people who were behind me - my coach, Agnes Samaria and the Ministry of Sport for the opportunity that they gave us,” she added.
Herunga said it was a great experience to run against the top athletes in the world.
“It was a good experience running against the best athletes in the world like Sanja Richards Ross and I know the next time I will be ready for her... I know that young people in Namibia will now look up to me and work hard just to be where I am now,” she said.