Race for Rio gath­ers mo­men­tum

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

LE­SOTHO is send­ing 10 ath­letes to the South African ath­let­ics se­ries which gets un­der­way this Satur­day in Bloem­fontein and ends next month.

Ac­cord­ing to Le­sotho Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion (LAAA) spokesper­son Se­jana­mane Maphathe, the se­ries is meant to help as many lo­cal ath­letes as pos­si­ble qual­ify for the Olympic Games set for Brazil later this year.

Maphathe said the as­so­ci­a­tion would use ev­ery plat­form avail­able for Le­sotho ath­letes to meet the qual­i­fy­ing stan­dards for the show­case event which takes place ev­ery four years.

Sprinter Mos­ito Le­hata and marathon run­ners Tšepo Ra­monene and Lebenya Nkoka are the only Le­sotho ath­letes who have al­ready qual­i­fied for the Rio Games, but the LAAA is des­per­ate to in­crease the size of their team.

“We have an in­vi­ta­tion from the South African ath­let­ics as­so­ci­a­tion to bring our ath­letes to their se­ries, which will be qual­i­fier for the Olympics,” Maphathe said.

“We have wel­comed that op­por­tu­nity with both hands and will be tak­ing dif­fer­ent ath­letes es­pe­cially from track-and­field events as well as the re­lays, to dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions to in­crease our team for the Olympics.

“Like I have said, only three ath­letes have qual­i­fied for the Olympics, so we will use this com­pe­ti­tion that gets un­der­way this week­end and ends in April, to in­crease the num­ber.”

Maphathe also noted the as­so­ci­a­tion has a group of young ath­letes who have shown po­ten­tial to de­velop into world­beat­ers.

“We have young­sters such as Moku­lu­bete Makatisi, Seut­loali Khohloane and Tšepang Sello who have made good progress in their de­vel­op­ment as ath­letes, which is why we are help­ing them meet Olympic qual­i­fy­ing stan­dards,” said Maphathe.

He also said they were bank­ing on triple-jumper Lerato Sechele, to qual­ify for the Olympics. Sechele is on a schol­ar­ship in Sene­gal and won a gold medal at the 2011 South­ern African Youth Cham­pi­onship held in Namibia.

“It is re­ally im­por­tant for us to have a big­ger team that will be go­ing to Brazil so hope­fully, our ath­letes will do well in this up­com­ing event and qual­ify.

“There is also re­cently-crowned crosscoun­try cham­pion, Nkhasi Nkhasi, who is al­ready study­ing in South Africa and will also run in a num­ber of com­pe­ti­tions in try­ing to book a ticket to Brazil.

“She has been very im­pres­sive and we have also been get­ting good feed­back from her coach,” he said.

triple-jump ath­lete lerato Sechele.

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