Preparations for Olympics far from ideal

Lack of competition unsettles local athletes

Precious Mashele of Boxer Athletic Club on his way to win the mens 5000m
Precious Mashele of Boxer Athletic Club on his way to win the mens 5000m
Image: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

It's the year of delayed Tokyo Olympics, and preparations by South African athletes are negatively impacted by the second wave of Covid-19 in the country.

Top SA athletes are worried about the possibility of local competitions getting cancelled. Cross-country star Precious Mashele and prominent roadrunner Collen Mulaudzi are planning to qualify for the 5,000m event. But the pair is worried that they might not have the opportunity to compete in the Games as the Covid-9 infection rate keeps rising in the country.

Long distance sensation Stephen Mokoka's manager is working hard to secure him a race overseas to gauge his readiness for the Games. But it is getting harder to secure races abroad for Mokoka who has qualified for the marathon at the Games.

The Tokyo Olympic will take place in July, after they were rescheduled from their original date in 2020 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

"The second wave of Covid-19 is giving me sleepless nights. I am losing motivation to train because there is no race confirmation," Mokoka said.

"I am demoralised and worried that I might not get a race overseas. I want to gauge my fitness race and to see where I can improve before the Olympics."

Fresh from winning the Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) cross-country championships in Kagiso last week, Mashele is also battling to secure a race overseas.

"I want to qualify for the 5,000m event in the Olympics, but the virus is threatening to stop athletics again. I am worried," said Mashele.

Track and field athletics, such as 100m champions Akani Simbine and Simon Magakwe, are in training camp at the University of Pretoria. However, the director of athletics, Danie Cornelius, has also expressed his concerns.

"We are worried about the second wave, but we are hopeful that the vaccine will be here on time. It is difficult for athletes to train if they don't know what the future holds for them," Cornelius said.

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