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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mokoena backs Samaai and Johnson to medal in Tokyo

South African long jump veteran Khotso Mokoena says the two jumpers selected to represent South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics stand a good chance of returning home with a medal. Ruswahl Samaai and Cheswill Johnson will carry the country hopes in the pit at the rescheduled games which kick off on Friday. Mokoena who was Team SA's sole medalist at Beijing 2008, says the two athletes must focus on getting into the final where one good leap can prove to be enough.

Samaai (right) who won bronze the 2018 Commonwealth Games is carrying South Africa's hopes of a long jump medal after Luvo Manyoga (centre) was banned from the sport in January. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

"I think we've got two good long jumpers with a good possibility of collecting a medal," he told #TheTopRunner. "I think they must focus at first on getting into the finals. Once they reach that stage then everything is quite open. Looking at the past few years you could realize that no athlete has put a stamp as the dominant long jumper in the world. So everyone has a chance to claim a medal. Anything is possible only if you put mind to it,"he said.

With Luvo Manyonga not being able to defend the silver medal he won at the 2016 Rio Olympics after being banned for four years for failing to make himself available for drug testing, South Africa's hopes rest with Samaai and Johnson. 36-year-old Mokoena who was recently elected as the chairperson of the athlete's commission of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee( SASCOC) believes these are areas where federations can play a bigger role.

"The issue with Luvo is that we lost someone with the potential of bringing Olympic gold," explains the Commonwealth Games gold medalist. "Honestly, things do happen in this world and people are troubled by many issues but the important thing is to go to back to the drawing board and rise again. I just wish he comes out of this dark situation he is now as he did before. But athletes need to teach themselves life orientation. Sports is a very difficult and you must be good in life outside of sports, to make sure you don't mix with the wrong company. This is where as the Athletes Commission we must be able to assist athletes to make good choices and open opportunities for them to limit these situations," he shared.

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