Ath­letes need more support

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

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.

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