When Dan Craven of Namibia found out that he could compete in the cycling time trial event at the Olympics on Tuesday morning, his answer was succinct: “No.”
Craven was in Rio to compete in the road race event, which took place on Saturday. But after several crashes and injuries, the organizers had an opening, and they wanted Craven. The 33-year-old cyclist was woefully unprepared, though. He only had a road bike, not a time trial bike, which he compared to “entering a Formula 1 race with a NASCAR.”
But after hanging up the phone (and asking his followers on Twitter what to do) Craven, who was born in Namibia had a change of heart.
“How many people get an unexpected invitation to compete in an event in the Olympic Games? That just doesn’t happen,” he said, moments after finishing his run on Wednesday morning. “I hung up the phone, but then I thought, I just turned down competing at the Olympic Games because I was scared of my ego, my fragile ego. I thought, that’s just ridiculous.
“As much as the Olympics isn’t what it used to be — it’s become very commercial, the IOC and Rule 40, which drives me insane — it’s still the Olympics. I’m still representing my country in front of the entire world. I mean, what’s cooler than that?”
Craven finished with a time of 1:27:47.93, good enough for dead last. But it was still much, much better than anyone expected, including Craven himself.
“Before the race, I was just thinking that I don’t want (the rider who started 12 minutes behind me) to catch me. The 12-minute man, Christopher Juul Jensen, is a really strong rider. There were six guys between him and me, and I was expecting to be overtaken by all of them.
“… in the end, there was just one guy who caught me. I rolled across the finish line, and I got to sit in the hot seat for a minute. I was in second position when I crossed the finish line. It was amazing.”
Craven said that he’s very happy he made the decision to race, and his performance, last place and all, helps alleviate a somewhat disappointing result in the road race on Saturday, in which he did not finish.
“Look at me. I’m talking to (you), standing here, wearing ‘Namibia’ across my chest. I’m such a proud Namibian. I love my country. The chance to do this. I can say I competed in an Olympic time trial.”
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