Riders ready for Euro challenge
THE Lesotho Lawn Tennis Association (LLTA) will send a team of seven players to 2015 All-africa Games set for congo-brazzaville in September. The team comprises four boys and three girls, who are the best-ranked in the country. The association’s president, Kamohelo Hlomisi, is hoping intensive preparations for the tournament would begin next month after Lesotho players missed a number of continental and regional competitions due to lack of funds.
“Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, our preparations have been a bit slow. However, we are hoping things will change for the better once we get funding from the Lesotho Sports and Recreation commission.”
“Our team was supposed to have participated in a competition in mozambique, but failed to do so due to the same funding problem,” Hlomisi said.
According to Hlomisi, despite lack of international exposure, he was optimistic the players would hold their own in Brazzaville.
“This is our best team and I’m confident they will do the country proud although we would have wanted to see them playing a number of competitions before the major event. We are hoping to take this team for a competition in Botswana in July which we feel will be good preparations before they go for the All-africa Games,” said Hlomisi.
Hlomisi said mojalefa mothibe would coach the team, adding: “At the moment, Ntate mothibe is our main coach, but we will be having a meeting soon to discuss other things regarding the team and its preparations.”
The association would also stage a tournament for veterans next Sunday “to inspire and motivate the current crop of players”, Hlomisi further said.
“The veterans tournament will be a way of motivating our young players and also instill the spirit of togetherness within our sport. Our veterans have been there and done it before and it is very important for them to keep supporting and assisting the young generation,” said Hlomisi.
Lesotho All-africa Games teams Males: Alex Lebelo Leslie mosehle, Paseka motsamai, Bishop mosebi, Khojane ellisa Khethisa.
Female: muzoz Rannana, Pulane Florence monyatsi, Nthabiseng Nqosa. Academy of cycling excellence ( Ace) manager, mark West, says there would be no more excuses for failure when the country’s best, riders Teboho Khantši and Phetetso monese, battle-it-out in the Protective BIKE Four Peaks Race scheduled for 17-21 June in Austria.
The cyclists, who will be riding under the Alliance Insurance banner, leave the country today for Switzerland, from where they would drive to Germany to take part in a warm-up race on Sunday.
After the 14 June event, the riders go to Austria for the four-day 270 kilometre race renowned for its tough terrain and attracting the best mountain bikers.
Addressing a media briefing on Monday this week in Maseru, West said he was confident the riders would do Lesotho proud in the central european country.
“These riders have been competing in different races in South Africa and other parts of the continent with a measure of success and the next step was for them to go to europe.
“I am glad they have now managed to get that chance to represent not only Lesotho but the whole continent in Austria as they are going to be the only African riders amongst 1000 participants in the race,” West said.
The former Lesotho cycling Association secretary general further said there was no doubt this would be a tough duel for the riders considering the quality of the opposition.
“These boys are really good in what they do and have helped the country get ranked second in Africa, while we are in the top 40 globally, and they are in the top 50 as a team. That only shows how good they are, hence my confidence that they will bring home good results although it is not going to be easy considering who they will be competing against,” said West.
“I would also want to express my gratitude to the sponsors because all this wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
West continued: “We are trying to make sure that the two riders have everything they might need to excel at the race, but are also aware there might be some challenges that might make them fail to finish the race.”
On his part, Lesotho Sky events manager Kananelo masia, who would be travelling with the riders to europe, also expressed confidence in the duo’s ability to rewrite history in the race.
“They will be competing against professional riders but I am confident they will bring home positive results. However, they need all our support; they qualified for this race last year during the six-day Lesotho Sky Race,” said masia.
Alliance Chief Financial Officer, Mohapinyane Taole, applauded Sky events (Pty) Ltd for its part in promoting cycling in the country.
Sky events (Pty) Ltd is an events and adventure tourism company based in maseru, and one of its pride is the annual Lesotho Sky mountain Bike Stage Race.
“you have proved to us that when you set a target, you work tirelessly towards achieving it. you have now set a target for the athletes, which is to win a trophy for their country. We are all behind these riders and wish them the best,” said Taole.
meanwhile, Khantši said he was ready for the european challenge, while monese was equally bullish.
“I have been preparing for this race for a very long time and I think I am now ready to face the big guns of the cycling world,” Khantši said.
monese on the other hand, said while the race would not be a walk in the park, he was confident they would leave an indelible mark on the competition.
“We will be making our debut at Four Peaks this year so it is obvious there will be challenges along the way. However, I must boldly say we are prepared and the aim is to do well in the race and not just be part of the competition,” monese said.
Teboho Khantši (left) Lesotho Sky events Manager Kananelo Masia (centre) and Phetetso Monese