Duo guns for Rio glory
RIO DE JANEIRO — Marathon aces, Lebenya Nkoka and Tšepo Mathibelle, say their resolve to run their way into the history books by clinching Lesotho’s first Olympics medals is stronger than ever.
The duo is set to compete in the 42.2 kilometre marathon on Sunday at Sambondromo Stadium in the Brazilian coastal city of Rio de Janeiro.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times on the side-lines of their training session this week, Nkoka and Mathibelle said they were ready to take on the world’s best after rigorous preparations ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Nkoka underwent a training camp at Motebeng Village in Ha-lejone while Mathibelle was in Kenya. The duo arrived in Rio de Janeiro last Sunday.
“It has been a long road of preparing for these games, and the moment of truth now beckons. I am certainly ready to face the world’s best marathon runners,” said Nkoka said.
“I know it is not going to be easy, but I also fancy my chances. Even though countries like Kenya have dominated in marathons, it doesn’t make them automatic winners. We all have a chance to win on the day.”
The 33-year old runner said he was determined to do his nation proud by emerging with silverware at the global sporting showcase.
“It’s common knowledge that Lesotho’s long distance runners have not performed well in major tournaments, but hopefully we will change that trend,” he said.
For his part, Mathibelle said they held Lesotho’s last hopes for medals since their marathon would be among the last events of the Rio Games.
“All the athletes representing Lesotho wanted to make the nation proud. However, some of our teammates have not fared well and we also feel their pain,” he said.
“So, we are determined to perform well on Sunday and do our teammates and country proud.”
Team Lesotho consists of sportspersons from the disciplines of athletics, cycling and boxing.
Apart from Nkoka and Mathibelle, athletics is represented by Mosito Lehata, Tšepang Sello and Nomakwe Nkhasi, while in boxing there was Moroke Mokhotho and Inkululeko Suntele as well as mountain biker Phethetso Monese.
Lebenya nkoka. Tšepo Mathibelle.