Athletes need more support
Lesotho’s long-distance runners have continued to do the country proud over the years, dominating south African races and making locals the athletes to beat at such events.
Last sunday, the athletes lived up to expectations once again, taking five top 10 positions of the lucrative soweto Marathon in the male category, whose winner, sintayehu Legese Yinesu of ethiopia, walked away with a staggering M100 000.
In the female edition of the race, only Moleboheng Mafata finished in the top 10, ending the event in fifth position and ensuring Lesotho’s name also featured in this category.
For the male section of the race, Nkhabutlane Motlokoa, teboho Sello, Ramolefi Ramotsieloa, Matela Makhetha and tsotang Maine ended the event in second, third, fourth, sixth and eighth positions respectively, to cap a good day at the office for our runners.
of course, we had become used to taking first position in both the male and female categories over the years, with the likes of Maine, Moeketsi Mosuthlie and Mabuthile Lebopo dominating, while Mamoroallo tjoka — who did not take part in the race this time around due to fatigue — had won the competition seven times before sunday’s showdown.
however, the dominance has since been ended by east African runners from Kenya and ethiopia, which I feel would not be the case if our athletes were receiving adequate backing from the government in the form of modern training facilities and related financial support.
It’s true our athletes did us proud last weekend, but I still feel we could have done better and pipped the two ethiopians to the titles.
even Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) Public Relations Officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, expressed concern in an interview with the Lesotho Times last week that east African countries are now dominating as far as marathons are concerned, which he noted should not be the case.
What I have realised is that most of the times, these athletes are training on their own which I somehow feel is the reason why they have lost their dominance to the east Africans.
there is no doubt that a lot is involved as far as sport is concerned nowadays, such as personal trainers, physiotherapists and gym-work on a regular basis, which sadly, our athletes cannot afford.
this is where government should come in and help the athletes, but unfortunately, this has not been the case, hence the decline in our dominance in south African races.
It is common knowledge that Lesotho does not have an abundance of good training facilities like other countries, which is why the LAAA should make sure that our athletes can easily access state-of-the-art training facilities at Lehakoe Recreational Club and also work with experts such as physiotherapists to monitor their fitness.
While runners such as Motlokoa have not been representing the country in international competi- tions in recent years, others coming after them such as Motsieloa and Mafata, without doubt, deserve more support to also reach their full potential because age is still on their side.
Both were part of the Lesotho team which took part in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games early this year and surely with good care, they can go all the way and fly the Lesotho flag high at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro olympics.
Motsieloa and Mafata are still in their 20s and I believe many in the athletics fraternity will agree with me that these two can achieve more in the next three years if afforded better care.
I therefore, urge our athletics bosses to give more support to these runners by making sure they can access modern facilities such as those at Lehakoe, that will improve them mentally and physically.
After all, even the country’s top sprinter, Mosito Lehata has said it many times that better facilities in Mauritius where he has been based since 2012, and regular competition at the highest level, have made him a better athlete.