TOKYO — One of the social media sensations of the Rio Olympics won’t be competing in Tokyo after Namibia’s Dan Craven tested positive for COVID-19 in Spain, where the former professional cyclist lives with his family.
Even more devastating was the timing of it.
Craven told The Namibian newspaper that he had been trying to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through Spain’s national health care system, “but the bureaucratic system to get registered has just been crazy.”
“Two hours after I tested positive,” Craven said, “I got a phone call saying I can come in for my vaccine.”
The tall, lanky rider with the bushy red beard said on his Instagram page that he caught the virus on a training ride with three other people. He was supposed to have the single starting spot for Namibia, where he was born, but tested positive in a pre-event test and will be replaced in Saturday’s race to Fuji International Speedway by Tristan de Lange.
“For more than three years I have been plotting, planning, training and preparing for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Craven, who competed in the 2012 and 2016 Games. “I may no longer be on a pro team and my training was anything but smooth in the last few months but the combined effort to get so far has been enormous. And it’s all gone with one positive test.”
The 38-year-old Craven, who moved to Europe to pursue a cycling career in 2005, became a sensation at the Rio Games first for his beard and then for the time trial. He was chosen to fill an unexpected starting spot but didn’t have a proper time trial bike, so he simply rode his road bike to a predictably dismal — if entertaining — result.
“Right now I’m mostly concerned about my family and sorry for all the sacrifices they had to make on my behalf so I could ride up a mountain in Japan,” Craven said. “So many people who helped me get this far on this special journey. I can’t even begin to say thank you to everyone. Stay safe. Get vaccinated. And please take this seriously.”