Lesotho in bid to break medals duck
THE long-awaited 2016 Summer mer Olympics will get underway tomor tomorrow with the eight athletes representing LesothoLe hoping to end the long wait for a first ever medal at the global sporting showcase showcase.
The games will run fr from 5 to 21 August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Lesotho esotho will be represented in the sport sporting codesdes of athletics, boxing and cycling.
Mosito Lehata, Tšepan Tšepang Sello,lo, Nomakwe Nkhasi, Lebenya Nkoka and Tšepo Mathibelle will compete in athl athletics, Moroke Mokhotho and Inkululek Inkululeko Sunteletele in boxing while cycling willwi be representedepresented by
Phethetso M Monese.
Athletics: The Lesotho Athletics Amateurur Association (LAAA) A) has the most representasentatives in the eightmembermembe team m Lesotho comparedco ed to the other disciplines.lines. ManyMa eyes es will be on star sprinter, nter, Lehata, whowh wades des into the ga games brimming rimming with confidenceco nce after winning silverilver during the star-studded r-studded Afr rican Senior Champ pionships ps held in D Durban last month. Lehata a has also won a numberumber of internati ternational competitions including the Ellwangen Meetingng in German in May. He also clinched t third positionosition at the 55th Ostrava Golden SpikeSpi in the Czech Republic. According to LAAA public relations officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, Lehata is in the best shape of his life and could cause an upset in the 100m and 200m races even though they were teaming with global household names. “Lehata set a new personal best record at the African Senior Championships, and h he is taking the same focus and intensi intensity to Brazil,” Maphathe said. “Unlike in the past two years, Lehata looks fitte fitter mostly because he did not burn himself out by participating in a lot of competitions before a majo major race.” He, however,howe conceded triumphing a against the world’s best such a as the likes of Usain Bolt, Just Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell wouldw be no mean feat. “Leh “Lehata will have to be at the top of his game since he will be competing againsta some of the best in the business,” said Maphathe. “B “But he has been there befor before, and knows what will beb required of him. The time he clocked i na in Durban puts him among the world’s e eight best runners i in the 100m race. I If he were to repli licate that time, it w would give him the likeli ke mon-
chance to run in the final he did two years ago at the Com- wealth Games.”
He was also upbeat over half marathon runner Nkhasi’s prospects make waves at the Olympics despite being a rookie.
The Rio Games would be the 10 000m runner’s first ever international competition. Nkhasi showcased his mettle by winning bronze in the African Senior Championships where he represented the Mountain Kingdom for the first time.
The LAAA publicist said Nkhasi’s advantages were that age was still on his side at 23 years, and he was not afraid of competition since he outperformed more experienced athletes at the continental competition held in the coastal city.
“Nkhasi might be new to the international stage, but he is a fearless and confident young man who proved his abilities by winning a bronze medal ahead of Kenyans and Ethiopians in Durban,” Maphathe said.
“If Nkhasi plays to his strengths even though he is an underdog, there is a good chance he will prevail.”
Turning to the marathon duo of Mathibelle and Nkoka, he said they had made adequate preparations.
“Mathibelle was in camp in Kenya ahead of the Olympics, and also did very well in South Korea in June. So, I am very confident the duo will perform better than the previous years,” Maphathe said.
“As for Sello, the Olympics will give her good exposure as she is the youngest in the team at 18 years. The Olympics will also prepare her for the future.”
Boxing: Mokhotho and Suntele were the first athletes from Lesotho to arrive in the South American country on 30 July, following their one-month training camp in Cuba.
Weighing 56kg, Suntele secured qualification for the Olympics during the African qualifiers held in Cameroon in March in which he also won a silver medal.
According to Lesotho Amateur Boxing Association (LABA) president, Takatso Ramakhula, Suntele is a very talented boxer who can be unstoppable when in his element.
“There is no doubt about his talent. I think he is in the best shape of his career and has been working hard with his coach,” Ramakhula said.
“I think how far they will go at the Olympics will be determined by who they would be drawn against. What I can guarantee you is if they end up losing, they will lose to boxers who will win medals.”
The 52kg Mokhotho qualified for Rio through a portfolio placement selection after a South African boxer pulled out of the showcase.
Mokhotho is a two-time bronze medalist from the 2011 and 2015 All Africa Games.
“He is a boxer who thrives on hard work and has also gained experience competing in different competitions over the years,” said Ramakhula.
“He was very unlucky during the Olympic qualifiers in Cameroon last year after getting injured and having to fight the best in his division. He is a top boxer who always fights to win.
“I think the training camp in Cuba helped them a great deal and prepared them for the games.”
Cycling: Monese will go into the Olympics buoyed by his solid performances during the Mountain Bike World Championships and Transalp race held in Switzerland earlier this month.
The 31-year old cyclist was a late addition to team Lesotho after qualifying through a third-place finish during the 2016 African Continental MTB Championships held in April.
Monese told the Lesotho Times’ sister paper, Sunday Express he was raring to give his best in Brazil.
“I am fit enough to go and compete in Brazil, I have got all the training and exposure I needed, what is left is for the games to begin,” he said.
“I know it will not be easy and the competition will be stiff, but I will give my all.”
BOXER Moroke Mokhotho.
MOUNTAIN biker Phethetso Monese.
SPRINTER Mosito Lehata.