Rabat – Morocco’s Olympic Taekwondo team began Thursday a training camp at the sports center affiliated to the Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane.
The training camp will continue until September 23 and take place behind closed doors. It comes in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, scheduled to begin in July 2021.
Morocco’s Olympic Taekwondo team includes three athletes that previously guaranteed a spot in the Tokyo Olympics: Oumaima El Bouchti in the -49 kilograms category, Nada Laaraj (-57 kilograms), and Achraf Mahboubi (-80 kilograms).
Several Moroccan athletes will also take part in the training camp to help the qualified fighters in their exercise and sparring, such as Rabab Ahadi, Safia Salih, and Ayoub El Bassel.
Morocco’s Royal Taekwondo Federation (FRMTKD) appointed coaches Mourad Essabagh and Mohamed Alaoui Ismaili to guide the young athletes during the training period.
Prior to their travel to Ifrane, all team members took tests for COVID-19. All tests yielded negative results.
The training camp comes as the Moroccan Taekwondo champions saw their dreams of participating in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics delayed for one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
El Bouchti, Laaraj, and Mahboubi all guaranteed their spots in Tokyo in late February during the African Taekwondo Olympics Qualifiers, held in Morocco.
The three fighters expressed their eagerness to lift the Moroccan flag in the international event after their qualification.
“Four years ago, I remember watching the Olympics on television as a kid. Today, I achieved the dream of athletes from all over the world,” 19-year-old Mahboubi said after his qualification.
Modified training plans
In a recent interview with MWN, David Sicot, the head of the FRMTKD’s technical department, said that the Moroccan athletes have adapted their training to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fighters were initially planning to train in France, Norway, England, and Japan. However, due to COVID-19, Morocco’s Taekwondo team adopted new ways to maintain the athletes’ physical fitness.
During Morocco’s strict lockdown between March and June, the athletes participated in remote coaching sessions from their homes.
The 20-day Ifrane training camp represents the first phase of the athletes’ preparation for the Olympics after Morocco eased its lockdown measures. With only ten months before the international competition begins, the athletes must work hard to reach and maintain their peak performance.