Lesotho paralympian discus thrower, Litšitso Khotlele blamed covid-19 for her run-of-the-mill outing during the ongoing Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Khotlele competed on Sunday in the F44-66 category where she threw 22.27meters to finish in ninth position out of 10 participants.
Upon her arrival with the delegation that accompanied her to Tokyo, the coach, Thabiso Ratšoane and the Team manager, Lefa Moneri tested positive for Covid-19 and had to be isolated.
Although the athlete had tested negative, she had to be isolated also because she had been in contact with the duo and therefore missed out on a chance to be the Lesotho flag-bearer.
She said the ordeal took a toll on her and challenged her mental state because she was training without her coach who was only available on the day of the competition.
“The experience of having members of the team test positive for Covid-19 had its impact on me psychologically, that time is when an athlete needs their coach the most, it was difficult and I was worried,” she said.
Her finishing position is not what she had gone to the Paralympics hoping for but indicated that she was rather happy with her performance.
She set the new personal record by breaking her other record of 20.34 metres which she set during qualifiers in April this year.
Khotlele qualified for the Paralympics during the South Africa Sports Association for Physically Disabled (SASAPD) National Championships in Port Elizabeth.
In an interview with Newsday Sport, Khotlele said she went to the games with an aim to outperform her 2016 result in Rio Brazil where she had finished in 10th place after a 19.1 metres throw.
“I was really eying a better position than the previous outing, I wanted to improve but, I am still happy that my distance improved which is a positive.
“I have also improved my personal best so that tells that I was prepared for the games and that is a huge achievement,” Khotlele said.
She said having been the only paralympian to have reached the grand stage in 2016 and again in 2021 is something that she is proud of.
“I keep finding myself battling against the best in the world at this stage, being the only African in my category made me proud and motivated me a lot,” she said.
The games come to end on Sunday with a closing ceremony where Khotlele will get her chance to be the Lesotho flag-bearer.