Le­sotho in bid to break medals duck

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

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.”

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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.

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