Durban-based athletes, set to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, say they can’t wait to rake in the medals for Team South Africa. 

Twenty-four-year-old Emma Chelius will be amongst Team SA’s 200 Olympians hoping to do well for their club and country. 

Chelius qualified for the Olympics by setting a new SA record time of 24.72 at the SA Invitational Aquatics Championships in Gqeberha last month. 

Swimmer Emma Chelius says: “I think every athlete dreams of Olympic gold and we all work hard to make it a reality and get there. Being my first Olympic, I am trying not to put pressure on myself.” 

And two weeks after the Olympics got under way, the Paralympic games will start. 

Paralympian Tyrone Pillay says the pandemic has robbed them of valuable training time. 

“It was tough. People don’t realise how much negative COVID-19 did to most athletes. We have really lost time. I struggled mentally and I am back and ready to go for Tokyo.” 

Five years ago, Pillay won a gold medal and bronze from the All-Africa Games and Rio Olympics, respectively. 

With international spectators out of the picture this year, some athletes have developed self-motivation means to keep themselves revved up.  

“Every time you go on to the big games, there’s 60 000 people in the stadium. I took a little speaker and tried crowd music on, so I can hear the crowd while I’m training even though no one is going to be cheering us on. But I have that in my head. Maybe that bit of mentality will be helping me in the games.” 

Chelius says, “During the lockdown, it was very tough, trying to work from home obviously out of the swimming pool for like three months which is the longest I have been out of the water.” 

Team SA won 10 medals, including two gold medals, in the last Olympics in Brazil.