Reuters, Friday March 23 2012 - source: The Guardian
DILI, March 23 (Reuters) - Two East Timor marathon runners confront a series of obstacles including a shortage of the right food, primitive training facilities and inadequate footwear before they realise their Olympic dream in London this year.
Augusto Ramos Soares and Juventina Napoleao, who clocked 2:33:46 and 3:05:15 respectively at the Tokyo marathon in February, will represent East Timor in the men's and women's athletics teams at the Games.
"Many obstacles that we face, such as a training programme which is not complete, (inadequate) food or supplements and proper equipment," Soares told Reuters on Thursday. "For example, we have torn shoes, but like it or not, we use them"
The head of the East Timor Athletics Association, Afranio Xavier Amaral, said the runners' training programmes had to be adjusted in line with current circumstances.
"The federation already produced a technical preparation, a six-month programme for them, but we're still waiting for another donation towards our next preparation. Currently both of them live in their own houses, not in a training centre, so we adjusted our programme according to those conditions and we cannot push for tough training," said Amaral.
He paid tribute to the athletes' commitment and said national pride would help.
"(Proper) facilities can have a major impact, but we do not have all-round training facilities. We practise in the open air and by the road. If we compare (ourselves) with other countries, yes, we lack facilities, but with our nationalist spirit we are ready to go on," said Amaral.
East Timor declared independence in 1975 after the colonial power Portugal withdrew but were then subjected to an invasion by Indonesia. It eventually became independent with United Nations help in 2002.
The south-east Asian country has natural resources but little ability to exploit them and most of the country's one million people remain among the world's poorest.
It has sent competitors to previous Olympics but has never won a medal.
(Writing by John Mehaffey in London, Editing by Alison Wildey
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