Lack of international competitions put Tokyo dream in doubt
Preparations and training for Tokyo 2020 Olympics is well underway however there is one major hurdle, which is limited access to international competition. Coaches have expressed a mutual consent at impending travel restrictions due to Covid-19 among other reasons, as a stumbling block for athletes to get sufficient training in order to be prepared to compete effectively at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Weightlifting coach, Alex Rankgwe said training is going well for their athlete, 20-year-old Magdeline Moyengwa, experiencing a few minor challenges here and there. “Covid is proving to be a major problem and we are worried that we have to keep postponing competitions, “he said. He went on to explain that they are doing all they can to give their athlete a fair chance at training, at the National Stadium, more so that the programme changes constantly and they have to work around it to further avoid any injuries. Moyengwa, is set to compete at the Weightlifting World Junior Championships from May 20 to May 31 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. “These are the Olympic and commonwealth qualifiers. On the 24th-31st May, will be the African Weightlifting Senior Championships in Kenya, which are still Olympic and Commonwealth qualifiers,” added.
Boxing national team coach Lechedzani Luza, said they have two athletes representing the country at the Olympics, Keamogetse Kenosi and Mahommed Rajab Otukile. He said the boxers have been engaged in training locally, following their return from Serbia last week. “Things went well in Serbia but we also realized that our athletes lacked match fitness as they had not competed in a long time,” he said, adding that it is not easy for them because international competitions continue to be put on hold or postponed due to unprecedented lockdowns in some countries.
“We had a few competitions lined up in Holland and Sweden, which unfortunately won’t be taking place, however we are looking forward to travelling to Venezuela at the beginning of June,” Luza added, expressing concern over the short-lived training that will come in June citing that a month is not enough to prepare for a competition of this magnitude. “Another thing again is our numbers, as we only have two athletes and one sparring, where we would have hoped to have at least six or seven. This can cause low motivation for the team,” he said.
Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Business Development and Strategy Manager, Baboni Kupe said they are well aware of the circumstances surrounding international travel for international competitions and are trying to have athletes exposed to competitions in counties where restrictions are not so apparent. “At the end of the day however, our athletes’ health is a top priority and we try and ensure that they are in tip top competition fitness,” she added. Kupe also explained that BNOC tries a lot to capacitate teams and athletes as much as they can and that a few athletes are out of the country, such as Judo which is presently in Cameroon and is scheduled for Senegal while the Paralympics team is preparing and will be leaving for Switzerland.