The Lesotho weightlifters who were in camp have been sent home after their camp which was aimed at preparing them for the 2021 African Senior Weightlifting Qualification Championships was suspended.
The Championships which were initially penned in for 1 to 8 April 2021 in Antananarivo, Madagascar were last week postponed to May 2021.
The Championships is an Olympic qualifying stage for the Tokyo Olympic Games to take place in July and August.
As a means to help the weightlifters to get ready for the Championships, a camp was set up about three weeks ago, starting on March 14 in Maseru.
Last week, coach of the National Weightlifting team Relebohile Motjamela, told this publication that they were meant to end the camp on Wednesday and leave for Madagascar on the same day.
He confirmed that the event has been postponed to mid-May because of the travel restrictions imposed by Madagascar to curb the spread of Covid-19.
â€œThe event has indeed been postponed to May this year hence we had to suspend camp,â€ Motjamela said.
â€œThe postponement came about upon realizing that there were some countries that were still not permitted entry into Madagascar because of the Covid-19 restrictions of that countryâ€ he said.
He said the time that he had with the athletes was very important because it helped them gain strength and to be active again since the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.
The team is made up of two senior weightlifters namely, Machachamise NtÅ¡inyi and Thapelo Sebota.
The Lesotho Weightlifting Association (LWA) through the Public Relations Officer Anna Shale, said the postponement is nothing short of a blessing because it gives them more time for the athletes to prepare.
â€œThe postponement was not expected at this stage however we will accept it and take it as a blessing for our athletes to prepare well with the more time they have been given,â€ Shale said.
The duo had been inactive since March last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that saw sports activities being suspended. They were last in action during the 2019 Zone 3 African Championships in Madagascar.
Sebota won a silver medal while NtÅ¡inyi brought home a bronze medal in the Madagascar Games. They also represented the country in the 2019 Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco.
No Lesotho weightlifter has ever qualified for the Olympic Games and the Madagascar Games will be the last opportunity for the two athletes to secure a first time qualification for Lesotho.