GABORONE — Two local athletes made history on Sunday when they qualified for the Olympics following a stunning performance in the 42.2-kilometre marathon in Gaborone, Botswana.
Jobo Khatoane and Tśepo Ramonene finished third and fourth respectively in the Steinmetz Gaborone Marathon and will now take part in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Respected South African athletics coach, Cliff Chinnasamy, said based on the two’s performance he was confident that Lesotho will lift its first Olympic medal at the London games scheduled between July and August.
Chinnasamy, who is the owner of Formula 1 Athletic Club, boldly predicted in an interview with the Lesotho Times on Sunday that Lesotho will lift an Olympic Games gold medal in the 42.2km marathon through Khatoane.
Khatoane is under Chinnasamy’s Formula 1 Durban-based team that has produced champions like Stephen Muzhingi.
“Lesotho will win its first gold medal at this year’s London Olympic Games and I am hundred percent sure of this,” Chinnasamy said.
“The fact that one of my athletes from Lesotho has just qualified for the games is enough for us to work for a gold medal at the Olympics.”
Chinnasamy boasted that he has never stepped out of gold in all the competitions that he has entered his athletes over the past 12 years.
“I have never stepped out of gold in my coaching career and given Khatoane’s abilities and talent, I am certain of a gold medal in the 42.2km marathon at this year’s Olympics,” he said.
He said it is always his mission to turn his athletes into champions even where most people see impossibilities.
“I love challenges and aiming for a gold medal is a challenge for both me and my athletes.”
Chinnasamy said he uses the “Art of running without running method”, which encourages athletes to relax both mentally and physically during a race.
The coach added that he also ensures that his athletes live comfortably so that they don’t find excuses after competitions.
Two Oceans marathon champion, Muzhingi, shared the same sentiments with Chinnasamy.
“These boys deserve to qualify for the Olympics and given their talent and determination, I am certain they will emerge winners at the Olympic Games,” Muzhingi, a Zimbabwean, said.
He said training with Khatoane and Ramolefi Motsieloa, who missed qualification by only three seconds, helped him win the Two Oceans.
“I only started training with these boys in February this year and look at what I achieved because of their support — winning the Two Oceans,” Muzhingi said.
“They helped me with speed throughout the training.
“They are very talented hence I am certain Khatoane will win a medal as long as he stays in our team.”
In a separate interview, the 21-year-old Khatoane said he was happy with his qualification.
“I am happy because it has always been my intention to qualify for the Olympics; there was actually a time it seemed impossible,” Khatoane said after the race.
Khatoane said he approached Chinnasamy after he fell sick.
He added that he was now going to concentrate on the bigger picture — winning a medal at the Olympics.