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Coronavirus Forces Gambian Swimmer to Find New Ways of Training for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics

Momodou Lamin Saine

On the heels of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, swimmers like Momodou Lamin Saine are forced to supplement lost pool hours with increased dryland sessions.

Swimming pools and other training facilities around the world have closed due to the pandemic.

This is for the first in history, the Games were  postponed, and the IOC has earlier announced that they are now scheduled to begin July 23, 2021, giving athletes about a 15-month training cycle to prepare.

Saine, Gambia’s 50m butterfly and freestyle champion is currently in Dakar on a scholarship by the Federation International De Natation (FINA) to train at the prestigious High Performance Centre in preparation for the Olympics.

      Momodou Lamin Saine

But with the training centre now closed, Saine is struggling to salvage his reduced training schedules. “My training activities are really slow at the moment, “Saine tells The Chronicle. Everything was progressing every day, and I was gaining shape after every session, but now I do only pull-ups, leg cradle and goblet squat.”

The Gambia made its Olympic debut in swimming in 2016 in Rio Janeiro, Brazil through wild-card qualification and Momodou Lamin Saine is hoping to be the first Gambian swimmer to meet the Olympic qualifying time of 22.01 seconds in the 50m Freestyle to Tokyo 2020.

Wild cards are added to a strict qualification system to encourage greater sports participation worldwide.

“I hope before the qualifiers restarts I’ll develop in speed and technique, “he said. I try to go through each exercise consecutively and with extra efforts because I have to be fit before the end of the pandemic. I want to be the first Gambian swimmer to earn direct qualification to the Olympics.”

“Right now, I am doing whatever I can to stay fit. I try to make sure that I respect the training programs given to me by my coach. The pandemic has really changed the way I train, but I have to adopt to new ways to be well prepared for the games.”

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