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Lockdown disrupting Olympics preps – Khatoane

 

Leemisa Thuseho

THE ongoing ban on all local sports is posing a threat to athletes’ preparations for major upcoming local and international events, Olympian and long-distance runner Jobo Khatoane has said.

Khatoane’s statements come on the back of the national lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro from 14 to 28 January 2021 to arrest the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases.

Before the lockdown, Khatoane said, there was hope for progress as some of the athletes were starting to return to action after sporting activities were banned last March.

Most athletes were now intensifying their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics slated for July and August this year.

Therefore, there is no doubt that the preparations for the Olympics and other events are suffering.

Khatoane represented Lesotho during the 2012 Olympics in London and has been preparing for a return to the grand stage after he failed to qualify for the Brazil 2016 Olympics. However, Covid-19 restrictions and other challenges are limiting his chances of qualifying.

“I have a few races lined up for this year starting February but most of them are now unlikely to take place because of the Covid-19 related challenges,” Khatoane told the Sunday Express on Friday.

“For the Olympics, I think our preparations are already late. For example, I haven’t yet qualified but I still have chance to qualify because once the lockdowns are lifted, I will get invitations for some qualifying races in Europe. However, we are running out of time because other countries have already started their Olympics preparation camps.”

The Olympics were initially scheduled for July and August last year but were later postponed to this year on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Khatoane further indicated that even those who will qualify for the Olympics will have limited time to prepare.

“We are trying our best to prepare ourselves for the return of sports but it is not easy to train while we are hungry. Since the last lockdown, we have been struggling and the government has not helped us.”

He however, said he was looking forward to participate in several races in South Africa starting next month. Among the races is the KwaZulu Natal Best of Best Marathon on 27 February, the Harry Gwala Half Marathon on 7 March and the Mchunu Legacy Marathon on the 27 March.

Despite the Covid-19 challenges, he is still anticipating a prosperous season.

“Even though it not easy, I am doing all I can to train and prepare for this season… I want to have the best ever season with good times especially in the 5000m and the 10 km races,” Khatoane said.

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