TRIPLE jumper Lerato Sechele is hoping for a fruitful year despite Covid-19 induced disruptions to sporting activities.
Sechele, who has already qualified for the upcoming African Seniors Championships penned in for between May to June 2021 in Algiers, Algeria, said she is targeting a gold medal at the event.
The games were initially set for 24 to 28 June 2020 but were postponed to this year on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She qualified for the tournament in February last year during the Free State Athletics Championships in Bloemfontein.
In her debut participation in the African Championships in Nigeria in 2018, Sechele brought home a bronze medal.
“I have already qualified for the African Senior Athletics Championships and this will be my second time competing in the tournament,” Sechele said.
“This time around my target is to improve from the last edition and win a gold medal, which is every athlete’s dream. If I won bronze in my first appearance, chances are high that I can get a gold medal this time around.”
Having last competed in February last year, Sechele said she was already hard at work preparing for the African Championships. She however, said her preparations are being hampered by the ongoing lockdown during which sporting activities are not allowed.
“I am preparing even though it is not easy because training facilities are closed due to Covid-19. One can’t fully rely on home training while preparing for such big events. I am worried because even if I go out and run, it is still not easy for me to do jumping sessions because they require well-established spaces with sand which I can only get at Setsoto Stadium,” she said.
Sechele admitted that the suspension of sport activities due to Covid-19 had affected their preparations for several big events which they are hoping to participate in. The biggest worry however, is that athletes in other countries continue training and contesting in different competitions.
As her upcoming competition nears, she said she needs a few preparatory competitions to ready herself.
“My plan was to go for competitions this month but due to Covid-19, it is now uncertain when I will start competing. June is not far; only three months away but we can still use the remaining time to get ready. However, that will only be possible if training facilities were open.”
Sechele is also eying her first ever Olympics qualification and says she is confident that she will earn one soon. The Olympics are penned in for July and August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. They were initially supposed to be held last year but were postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Apart from the African Championships my other target is to qualify for the Olympics and I think there is still time to fulfil the dream,” she said.
Sechele is one of the beneficiaries of the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship for athletes and her personal best is 13:57m. She must jump 14:20m to qualify for the Olympics.