LERIBE — South Africa’s 2012 Olympic World Rowing Cup title holders, are camping in the highlands of Lesotho in preparation for the 2016 Olympics scheduled for Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
The South African (SA) Rowing Team’s camping base is the Motebong Village situated on the banks of Katse Dam, near Ha-Lejone in Leribe district.
The team’s coach, Roger Barrow, said during a media briefing on Thursday that they will be staying at Motebong Village for the next three weeks and will return to South Africa on the second week of December.
According to Barrow, the rowing team wanted to try something new for their training schedule this year so they chose to come to Lesotho, particularly because of Katse Dam’s large quantity of water and the high altitude.
“We are here because we wanted a training spot with a large quantity of water and we believe the altitude will become advantageous during the Rio Olympics,” Barrow said.
Barrow said the altitude is much higher in the mountains and it’s very helpful for their training as it will give them competitive advantage.
He added that part of their training is cycling through the mountains of Ha-Lejone, an exercise which “is not easy but will bear us sweeter fruits”.
Asked how he discovered Ha-Lejone, Barrow said when they returned from the London Olympics they had to look for a place for their training and knowing Lesotho as a mountainous country they decided it would an ideal location.
“Because I don’t know Lesotho very much I searched online for a suitable place and found Motebong Village,” Barrow said.
“People there were ready to help, besides that; they had adequate space where we could store our equipment and enough training facilities.”
He added: “The village is just by the river banks which again makes it easier for our rowing exercise.
“I will not lie that the decision to come here was risky but we pressed on and now it’s helpful”.
Barrow further stated that they main reason here is the physiological part adding “hope to come back next year in March”.
Also present for the press briefing, Siswe Ndlovu, who became the first black African male rower to win a Gold Medal at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney in Great Britain.
Ndlovu who has been with the team for seven years said they are up in the air which makes it good for our training though it is tough.
Ndlovu said: “We are free-minded here and there are less distractions in the mountains because we are far from home.”