Le­sotho’s dom­i­nance un­der threat

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Le­sotho Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion (LAAA) pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, Se­jana­mane Maphathe, is wor­ried lo­cal run­ners could come short in the up­com­ing high Al­ti­tude sum­mer Marathon.

The event takes place in Mokhot­long on 5 De­cem­ber but Maphathe has ex­pressed con­cern at the form of the coun­try’s top ath­letes who have failed to dom­i­nate south African races over re­cent months.

Ba­sotho had be­come the ath­letes to beat in south African events such as the Soweto and Two Oceans marathon, but have not been that dom­i­nant of late.

Top run­ners Lebenya Nkoka, te­boho sello and tšepang Ra­monene could only man­age fifth, sev­enth and eighth po­si­tion in Sun­day’s Soweto Marathon, which was won by Sin­tayehu Lege­seyi­nesu of Ethiopia.

And ac­cord­ing to Maphathe, he is wor­ried East African ath­letes could take their dom­i­nance to next month’s High Al­ti­tude Sum­mer Marathon, which is Le­sotho’s pre­mier race, whose win­ner pock­ets M100 000. Mabuthile Le­bopo and Nkoka were the win­ners of the male cat­e­gory of the race over the last two years, while ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka reigned supreme in the fe­male cat­e­gory. How­ever, Tjoka would not be part of the race this year as she is sus­pended af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for a banned drug in last year’s race.

“I think in this case, there are two is­sues trou­bling our ath­letes, hav­ing lost their dom­i­nance in big south African races,” Maphathe said.

“The first one is that in the past, it was just Le­sotho and Zim­babwe vy­ing for top po­si­tions, but the ar­rival of run­ners from east Africa has made it more dif­fi­cult.

“An­other thing is age is now catch­ing up with most of our ath­letes who used to dom­i­nate south African races.”

Maphathe also lamented the ab­sence of Tjoka, who was sus­pended two months ago af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for a banned drug at the 2014 High Al­ti­tude Sum­mer Marathon.

Tjoka is the only ath­lete to win the Soweto Marathon seven times and was al­ways rais­ing the coun­try’s flag high in re­gional com­pe­ti­tions.

“It’s very sad that Tjoka has been sus­pended be­cause she was the one run­ner who al­ways gave the Ethiopi­ans and Kenyans a run for their money,” said Maphathe.

“I think there is se­ri­ous need for us to work on our next gen­er­a­tion of ath­letes now be­cause Tjoka was go­ing to re­tire some­day, any­way.

“We are used to hav­ing at least one lo­cal win­ning the High Al­ti­tude Sum­mer Marathon, but I think this will be un­der threat this year be­cause even the win­ner of this year’s Soweto Marathon is a reg­u­lar par­tic­i­pant at the Mokhot­long race.”

Maphathe added: “We have a few run­ners who have shown po­ten­tial in both the male and fe­male cat­e­gories, but it’s go­ing to take them time to ad­just and be as good as the likes of Tjoka and oth­ers.”

MABHUTILE Le­bopo.

LEBENYA Nkoka.

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