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Maike Rowing retirement

Maike Rowing retirement

Over a year has passed since I represented Namibia at the Tokyo Olympics.
I have been thinking a lot about the right words to use to close this chapter of my life. Professional sport. It’s been a crazy last few months, transitioning to a “normal” life after living a lifestyle that so few get to experience. But coming back to my original thoughts, and finding the right words to announce my retirement from professional rowing. I have had a lot of time to think about all the great things this sport gave me, the journey that I went on, and my rowing story that started back in 2015 in the small Eastern Cape town, of Grahamstown.
I am still playing with the idea to write a few more lines and, maybe a few chapters about my journey as the first Namibian Olympic rower. For now, I am sticking to a few lines and I know that I owe it to all my amazing supporters and the rowing community to not walk away from this sport without a proper goodbye.

But I owe it to myself, even more, I have put so much time, sweat, tears, hard work, and scarifies into the last few years of my life to create something very special and I am extremely proud of that and whom I became through that process.

I somehow always had the feeling that after Tokyo I would be done with rowing professionally, I have realized that I am a person that loves challenges of any type, I love to try new things and learn new skills. I am also someone that can easily decide to put all my effort into something and achieve the goals set out for myself, that’s what I did with my rowing. I do enjoy a good routine it keeps me grounded but if I do not feel a spark of adventure and joy anymore then I know it’s time to find a new adventure.

The thing is I loved the challenges rowing provided me with, I loved proving people wrong and I loved working hard and training to become the strongest and fittest version of myself.

I like to choose paths that not many have walked, the ones that have known me well for a while would agree with this.

Raised to become a very independent woman, I have always managed to do many things on my own, to keep going when no one is watching, and keep moving forward when challenges arise.

I think that because of that personality, my work ethic, and some blessed genetic athleticism from my parents I have been able to achieve all the things I did during my rowing career.

But looking back at the years of my rowing career, I have come to realize how amazing people around me responded to my story and how willing they were to support me when I needed help.

At first, there was no real plan in place on how I was going to achieve my Olympic dream once it had formed. I just remember getting up and training and continuing working with what I had, with or without coaches and a structured program. At times things seemed very chaotic, and unrealistic and often I asked myself whether I had made a silly decision to pursue this crazy dream. But like anything in life things start to fall into place just the way they are supposed to.

I met the right people at the right stages of my rowing career that had a big influence on me and my development as an athlete. You all know who you are, and I count myself lucky to have had the chance to work and train with all of you.

You all taught me that what I was doing was so much bigger than just achieving my own dream, it was about inspiring young girls, becoming a role model for women in sport, and creating a long-lasting legacy in Namibian sport, especially rowing.

And that is what I will strive to do still many months and years beyond my active rowing days. I want to give back to the Namibian sport, help other athletes achieve their dreams, and develop rowing into a bigger sport back home. As the current Namibia Athletes Commission Chairperson, I have been able to already give back and plan on helping to develop coastal rowing in Namibia.

Now I am on a path of rediscovering myself, who I am outside the sport and what other passions will I pursue to find my purpose in life. I look forward to this new chapter, even though it scares me every day, change is never easy to accept, but everything in life changes, we learn to go with it and see the beauty in change.

For now, I want to thank you with all my heart that I was able to share my journey with you. Thank you to all from Namibia, South Africa, Europe, Japan!

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