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LNOC launches drive for Youth Olympic Games

MASERU — The Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) last week launched its drive for next year’s Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore.

The games will bring together athletes from the ages of 14 to 18 and will take place next August. The event is intended to mirror the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Lesotho, like other nations that have had less than nine athletes on average from the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, will have a minimum of four athletes guaranteed at next year’s Youth Olympics through the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) “Universality Places” scheme.

The country has also been apportioned specific sports it can qualify for, namely boxing, swimming, tennis, table-tennis, taekwondo and basketball. The allocations are based on the level of development in the sport in the country as well as performances in international, continental and regional competitions.

Should Lesotho not make the grade in any of the events, the country will be guaranteed a place for one male participant in athletics, another in boxing, one female participant in swimming and another in taekwondo.

Because of sub-standard performances, Lesotho is not eligible for team sports.

Basketball at next year’s Games is an exception. It has not been classified as a team sport. Lesotho will have the opportunity to participate in it (if it qualifies) because of the development of basketball in the country.

“Basketball has had support from the Olympic solidarity programme so the expectation (from the IOC) is that there has been improvement of the sport in the country. That is why it has been chosen over football, for example,” Phelane Phomane, team Lesotho’s organiser, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Basketball at next year’s junior Games is also a three-person contest rather than the traditional five-a-side game.

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