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Weightlifting camp halted

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Leemisa Thuseho

THE Lesotho weightlifting national team has been forced to cancel its ongoing camp after the 2021 African Senior Weightlifting Qualification Championships were last week postponed to May this year.

The qualifying championships were initially penned in for 1 to 8 April in Antananarivo, Madagascar. The event is meant to be a qualifying event for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics penned in for July and August this year. This after they were postponed last year on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In preparation for the championships, a team was assembled for a camp which started on 14 March at Phomolong Guest House in Maseru. The camp was meant to end on Wednesday with the team expected to travel to Madagascar on the same day.

The is made up of two senior weightlifters namely; Thepelo Sebota and Machachamise Ntšinyi.

Lesotho Weightlifting Association (LWF) public relations officer Anna Shale confirmed to this publication that the event has been postponed to mid-May this year because of travel restrictions imposed by Madagascar to arrest the spreads of Covid-19.

She said the team’s camp has therefore been halted and would resume at a later stage in the period leading to the event.

“The qualifying event has been postponed to mid-May,” Shale said.

“This is after it was discovered that some countries are currently not permitted to enter Madagascar because of that country’s Covid-19 restrictions.

“The team will halt its camp next week.”

Shale said the few days that the team has been in camp helped the weightlifters gain strength and fitness after a long Covd-19 induced break.

She said the postponement was a blessing since it will give the team more preparation time.

The duo was inactive for the whole of last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The last time they were in action was late in 2019 during the Zone 3 African Championships in Madagascar.

Ntšinyi brought home a bronze medal while Sebota won silver in the Madagascar games.

The duo was also part of the team that represented Lesotho during the 2019 Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco.

The team’s coach Relebohile Motjamela last week told this publication that although the athletes were working hard during their camp, their long dormancy was posing a challenge. He however, said their biggest challenge was the limited time they had before the championship.

The Madagascar championships are the last opportunity for Lesotho weightlifters to fight for spots in the Olympics at continental level. However, Motjamela said there would still be some qualifying events outside Africa which will be extremely expensive to attend for locals.

During the lockdowns, Motjamela was working with the weightlifters remotely using training schedules while he would periodically monitor their progress.

No Lesotho weightlifter has ever qualified for the Olympics but Motjamela said he was hopeful that the current pair may break the jinx.

 

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