The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was a heavy blow for a lot of athletes, however a group of South Sudanese sprinters coaching in a Japanese city are hoping to show the delay to their benefit.
The 4 athletes and a coach have been within the metropolis of Maebashi, north of Tokyo, since November, benefiting from coaching amenities that aren’t accessible of their younger however poor house nation.
And with information of the historic postponement of the Video games over the coronavirus, they’ve determined to remain on till a minimum of July, hoping to beef up their abilities.
“The Tokyo Olympics (have been) postponed. It’s not a problem,” group coach Joseph Rensio Tobia Omirok, 59, informed AFP.
“I’m happy because I’m still training, and in other countries, they have no training. They’re sitting in their house but here we are OK… Training now is going OK.”
The choice to postpone the Video games for a yr till July 2021 got here after athletes and sports activities associations heaped stress on organisers and Olympic officers, pointing to scrapped qualifying occasions and restrictions on coaching.
Japan has up to now averted the kind of main outbreak seen in Europe and america and even a state of emergency declared on Tuesday solely applies to some components of the nation, not together with Gunma prefecture, the place Maebashi is situated.
The town of 340,000 has pledged to proceed serving to the younger athletes by offering them with lodging, meals and using an area public observe, together with a military of volunteer coaches and translators.
– ‘Very loving people’ –
Maebashi determined to host the group — the coach, one feminine and two male Olympic sprinters and one male Paralympic sprinter — as a part of its efforts to advertise peace by way of sports activities.
The athletes have visited native faculties and neighborhood occasions to speak about their homeland, which gained independence in 2011 and has been battling to recuperate from a civil conflict.
They recurrently practise with native kids and have discovered to talk easy Japanese.
The athletes say they’ve come to take pleasure in life within the metropolis, abloom with cherry blossoms after a bitter winter, regardless of being greater than 10,000 kilometres from house, the place they needed to practise on easy empty fields, not a observe.
“Before I reached Japan, I didn’t know what kind of people the Japanese are,” stated Abraham Majok Matet Guem, 20, who runs the 1,500 metres.
“The love I got here… is more than even what I expected. So I have not missed home so much because I am staying in a very peaceful environment with very loving people. So I was very surprised at that.”
The town has raised greater than 14 million yen ($128,000) from throughout Japan by way of a particular taxation scheme and is constant to lift funds to safe the entire 20 million yen wanted to maintain the group on by way of July.
Officers have been fast to reassure the group they’d be welcome to remain till a minimum of July, after the Olympic delay was introduced.
“We are eager to give them our continued support,” stated Shinichi Hagiwara, a sports activities official on the Maebashi metropolis authorities.
– ‘I still have time’ –
The athletes’ destiny after that will probably be determined after town consults with South Sudan’s Olympic authority, the Japanese authorities, the observe group and others, Hagiwara stated.
The athletes stated their heat reception left them hoping they may in the future be capable to welcome their hosts to their house nation.
“Right now, people are scared to go to South Sudan. But we believe in the near future, it will be a very peaceful country and everyone will be free to travel there,” stated Guem.
“And we shall be happy to see people from Maebashi there also.”
Guem left his mom and 7 siblings at house to coach within the metropolis for the Video games and stated the delay was not more than a minor bump in his Olympic journey.
“My dream is always, before I retire from athletics, I should become an Olympic medallist,” he stated.
“I will continue training and it is my hope to one day be a champion. I still have time.”