OLYMPIAN Lebenya Nkoka has said there is no longer adequate time to prepare for and attend qualifiers for this year’s edition of the Tokyo Olympics.
So far, only one Lesotho athlete Khoarahlana Seutloali, has qualified for the Olympics which will run from 23 July to 8 August in Tokyo.
The games were initially scheduled for last year on the same dates but were suspended for a year on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to the lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the virus in different countries, many competitions were halted for most of last year. Therefore, Nkoka said athletes no longer have a chance to prepare for and contest in qualifiers.
“Those who are lucky managed to run in the Cape Town Marathon late in 2019 and qualified because from then on, no qualifiers have been held in the region,” Nkoka said.
“We were still hoping for another chance but unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we do not have another chance.”
According to the former High-Altitude Summer Marathon winner, most qualifying races are being held in Europe and it is expensive for them to travel for competitions.
He however, said he would welcome any assistance if the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) steps in to assist them attend qualifying events.
“Most of the races that are used as qualifiers are in Europe and it is expensive for us to get there. Unfortunately, we are not getting any help from the LNOC to assist us in qualifying.
“The LNOC only starts assisting us once we have qualified, so for now we are stuck. It is also difficult for us to invest lots of money just for qualifiers when the LNOC is not doing anything to assist us.”
Asked whether they had approached the LNOC for assistance, Nkoka said it was the LNOC’s responsibility to ensure that they qualify hence they should not be reminded.
“We cannot be going to the LNOC asking for assistance when they know only one athlete has qualified for the Olympics so far.”
LNOC High-Performance Coordinator Likeleko Lepitla admitted that they were only dealing with athletes who are already in their programmes.
“Any athlete who is not in any of our programmes will only be supported after they have qualified for the Olympics. Even Khoarahlana was not in any of our programmes but after he qualified, we started helping him. It doesn’t only apply to marathoners,” Lepitla said.