Box­ing de­serves more sup­port

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

Boxer Inku­l­uleko Sun­tele booked a place at the up­com­ing Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro af­ter reach­ing the fi­nal at the re­cent African qual­i­fiers held in Cameroon.

Sun­tele ended the qual­i­fiers in sec­ond place in the 56kg cat­e­gory but the run­ner-up fin­ish guar­an­teed him a place in Brazil come Au­gust.

The 22-year-old joined sprinter Mos­ito Le­hata and marathon-run­ners Lebenya Nkoka and Tšepo Mathi­belle in the Le­sotho team which has al­ready qual­i­fied for the Rio cham­pi­onship.

How­ever, Sun­tele’s col­league, Moroke Mokhotho (pic­tured), was not so for­tu­nate de­spite reach­ing the semis in the 52kg cat­e­gory in Yaoundé. Only the win­ners and run­ners-up were guar­an­teed qual­i­fi­ca­tion for Brazil 2016.

Mokhotho had an­other chance to qual­ify when he fought a Ugan­dan for third place. How­ever, he lost the fight once again and is now in dan­ger of not go­ing to the Olympics.

Mokhotho has been fly­ing the coun­try’s flag high in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions over the years and took bronze medals at the 2011 and 2015 All-africa Games.

Surely this boy is gut­ted af­ter com­ing so close but miss­ing out on a chance to rep­re­sent the coun­try at one of the world’s big­gest sport­ing events.

I re­ally feel sorry for him be­cause he has al­ways been out­stand­ing and I feel he de­serves an­other chance and if things were to be done my way, I would def­i­nitely make sure he is taken to an­other qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion so that he tries his luck again be­cause he has proved over and over that he is a good fighter.

Mean­while, my ar­gu­ment re­mains that box­ing has done very well for us in­ter­na­tion­ally and I feel it is time our sports au­thor­i­ties put more re­sources into its de­vel­op­ment.

Box­ing’s suc­cess goes back to the days of Se­phula Le­tuka and Moses Kopo, who won bronze medals at the 2002 and 2006 Com­mon­wealth Games.

Our ath­letes have al­ways strug­gled to win medals in such big com­pe­ti­tions, but box­ing has never dis­ap­pointed and al­ways sal­vages some­thing for the na­tion.

But with the look of things, Le­sotho could go to the Olympics with less than 10 ath­letes, which would be a shame when you con­sider that other African coun­tries would have as many as 60 com­peti­tors.

The other is­sue re­gards fund­ing for our ath­letes. I think the Le­sotho Na­tional olympic Com­mit­tee (LNOC) must get more schol­ar­ships for our ath­letes to en­sure more of them ben­e­fit the same way that Le­hata, Mokhotho, Sun­tele and oth­ers have done. This is be­cause these schol­ar­ship ben­e­fi­cia­ries trans­form into even bet­ter ath­letes and we reap the re­wards as a coun­try.

Surely, there are more ath­letes as good as Le­hata and Sun­tele in Le­sotho and all they need are good fa­cil­i­ties and more re­sources to be­come even bet­ter.

Le­sotho has never a medal at the Olympics and I have this feel­ing that we still have a long way to go be­fore our ath­letes do, par­tic­u­larly when we take such small teams to this mega-tour­na­ment.

Inku­l­uleko Sun­tele (right) and Moroke Mokhotho in Cameroon.

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