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Sechele hopeful for Olympics qualification


Chris Theko

Lesotho Triple Jumper Lerato Sechele remains hopeful of a good season despite Covid-19 induced disruptions to sporting activities in the country. 

Sechele has been having a tough time training at home due to being away from her coach who is in South Africa. 

She says lack of competition time has dented her chances of qualification and a chance at a fruitful season but remains hopeful as she is about to leave Lesotho for South Africa to be closer to her coach, Amery Prinsloo.

“It has been a challenging time for me because just training at home is not enough, there is only so much a person can do when training as a triple jumper at home,” Sechele said.

“The other thing that was making the whole process difficult for me was being far away from my coach even though we were still in contact,” she added. 

Sechele mentioned that in recent months they had tried to get to the Setsoto Stadium as a handful of local Olympic athletes who are in preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic qualifiers but their efforts kept failing. 

“We asked that even though gymnasiums and training centers are closed, the stadium be opened for us to use but we were denied that opportunity.

“A number of times we took our request to the relevant authorities but we were unsuccessful until recently when our plea was taken up by the Athletes Commission which is under the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC), so far all we know is that the request was passed on to the sports ministry,” she explained. 

She admitted that the suspension of sports activities due to Covid-19 has badly affected their preparations for several big events which they are hoping to participate in. 

She has however applauded the LNOC for trying by all means to assist her to get back to Bloemfotein to be closer to her coach and be able to contest in different competitions. 

“I am grateful to the LNOC which has been doing all things possible to assist me get back to Bloemfontein, I struggled since January as I was supposed to have returned there then but due to travel restrictions between Lesotho and South Africa, I could not as I was told to get a permit from the high commission,” she said. 

Despite missing out on a number of competitions already this season, she says she is happy that things will start picking up as she finally travels back to Bloemfontein this week. 

Sechele has already qualified for the upcoming African Seniors Championships to take place from May to June 2021 in Algiers, Algeria and she says she is eyeing a gold medal. 

The games were initially penned for 24 to 28 June but were postponed to this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“My target this time around is to improve from the bronze medal I won three years ago and go for a gold medal.  I won bronze in my debut appearance so I can comfortably improve and get a gold,” she said. 

She has also set her eyes on the Olympic qualifiers, and is very confident that she will get her break for her debut appearance in the global sporting pinnacle. 

This year’s edition of the Olympics will be hosted in July and August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The games were initially supposed to have been held last year, but were postponed because of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Sechele’s personal best jump is 13.57 meters, achieved at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, and remains Lesotho’s record holder in triple jump. To qualify for the Olympics, she has to jump at least 14.20.         

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