SALT LAKE CITY — With the Summer Olympics in Tokyo now only two months away, many athletes who already qualified continue to train knowing their moment is getting closer. One of those athletes lives and trains in Salt Lake City, but her heart is on the other side of the world.
People often come to the Great Salt Lake for the views. You can see mountains for miles, birds, and even boats out on the water.
Lately, some visitors might have seen a certain rower who visits the Great Salt Lake and seems to be going faster than most rowers.
"When it's flat, you can just go and go and go and go," said Kathleen Noble with a smile.
Noble trains on the Great Salt Lake as often as possible.
She is the only rower from Uganda who will be in this summer's Tokyo Olympics.
"It means a lot to represent the Ugandan rowing community because rowing is a pretty new sport in Uganda. It started in 2009," she said.
Noble was born in Uganda.
Her father was a missionary doctor and her mother a missionary nurse. They stayed in the African country and Noble went to school there.
A couple of years ago, she moved to Salt Lake City for her career, as well as to work in the outdoor therapy field. However, her true love is rowing.
Noble qualified for the Olympics last year only for the Tokyo Games to be postponed because of COVID-19.
"At that point, I was like, nooo," she said with a big laugh. "It's just been so much time and so much effort and so much uncertainty."
Noble took a break for a little bit, but when she found out she would keep her Olympic spot she started training even harder.
"Thirty strokes and then turn around and come back," said her coach, Ahsan Iqbal, during a recent training session on the lake.
Iqbal said the year delay of the Olympics may benefit Noble because she's even stronger this year.
He added Noble gained a boatload of confidence at the Indoor World Championships a few months ago.
"There were people she was racing against that she did not think she could beat, and she had raced against them before," said Iqbal. "So, when she beat them, that was a good marker on training that she is on the right track."
Noble has also trained in the Jordan Surplus Canal with the Utah Crew Club.
Iqbal and his wife Linda are coaches with the Utah Crew Club and they feel having other high-level rowers train with Noble pushed her even further.
Most of all, though, Noble is just proud to be an Olympian and the first Olympic rower in Ugandan history.
When she competes in Tokyo this summer, she knows a lot of people in her home country will be watching — including, perhaps, the next Olympic rower.
"I think it is inspiring to them to see somebody from Uganda who is representing them at the Olympics," said Noble. "I hope that inspires that dream in them to be able to compete."
Many people in Utah will be cheering for her, too.