'It's tough but we'll get it' - Kao Mine backing leaves Seutloali confident of Olympic qualification
When the qualifying standards for the 2024 Olympic Games were released, athletes around the world took a collective gasp of horror at the mountain they would have to climb to represent their countries at the pinnacle of world sport. To put it into perspective, any athlete aiming to participate in the Olympic 10 000m race fro example, would have to run under 27 minutes in order to gain automatic qualification which is thirty seconds faster than Hendrick Ramaala's 24-year-old South African Record (27:29.94).
It's no different in the marathon where the 2:08:10 qualifying standard means that any Mosotho man wishing to be at Paris 2024, will have to smash Motlokoa Khabutlane's national record of 2:09:47 by over a minute. Yet this is exactly what Khoarahlane Seutloali intends to do. What's more, he has reason to believe because he's done the impossible before.
“I took part in the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games where I found it a little bit challenging because my marathon PB going into the games was a bit slower at about 2:22. But my coach Andrew Booyens worked hard on me and told me that year that I would qualify. And indeed that happened because I ran the qualifying standard in Cape Town," he said reflecting on the 2019 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon when he took fifth position to set his current 2:11:04 lifetime best.
Where he had to improve by over ten minutes to book his ticket to Tokyo, he will have to get faster by three minutes to guarantee a spot in France - perhaps a Herculean task for others but it's not too daunting for the 31-year-old from The Mountain Kingdom. "We will utilise the same strategy which served us well in 2019. The focus is on a specific race and if there are any other races on the side those are discussed with my coach as part of the broader plan. The qualifying time is tough, but we’ll apply our minds and use all of our might to get it."
Seutloali's confidence has been buoyed the backing he has been receiving from what is turning out to be a long term partner. Since 2020 Storm Mountain Diamonds (Pty) Ltd (SMD) which operates Kao Mine in the District of Botha Bothe in Lesotho, threw their considerable financial weight behind Ntate Khoarahlane's Olympic dream. Their support has enabled the Adidas athlete to move his training base to the North-West University's High Performance Institute in Potchefstroom where he currently lives and trains.
"This new sponsorship from Kao Mines will be very helpful. Through their support I have already moved here to stay in Potchefstroom and all my needs are taken care of. The accommodation is good, I have transport and most importantly my nutrition is good. So this sponsorship makes me feel at ease so that when I train I can focus on my work without being stress by anything. The marathon is a tough discipline, but the qualifying time is the qualifying time and that’s it. It’s not a problem. We’ll get it."