Wind­fall for Olympics ath­letes

Lesotho Times - - News - Mikia Kalati

GEN­DER, Youth, Sports and Recre­ation Min­is­ter Mathi­beli Mokhothu yes­ter­day pledged to give M120 000 to the eight-mem­ber team of ath­letes that rep­re­sented Le­sotho at the 2016 Sum­mer Olympics re­cently held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ad­dress­ing a press con­fer­ence in Maseru, Mr Mokhothu said the ges­ture was meant to re­ward the ath­letes for their com­mit­ment in rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try at the global sport­ing show­piece even though none of them won a medal.

The Rio Olympics were held from 5 to 21 Au­gust 2016, with Mos­ito Le­hata, Tšepang Sello, No­makwe Nkhasi, Lebenya Nkoka and Tšepo Mathi­belle com­pet­ing in ath­let­ics, Moroke Mokhotho and Inku­l­uleko Sun­tele in box­ing, while Phethetso Monese rep­re­sented the coun­try in moun­tain bik­ing.

The min­is­ter said it was an hon­our for any ath­lete to rep­re­sent their coun­try at the Olympics, hence the de­ci­sion to re­ward them.

“As a leader, I should start with a thank you to this team for their com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion dur­ing the Olympic Games on be­half of the gov­ern­ment,” Mr Mokhothu said.

“We all know there will al­ways be loop­holes when peo­ple are work­ing. But to a greater ex­tend, I think the ath­letes did very well.

“It is good to lis­ten to crit­i­cism, but what is im­por­tant is to take the pos­i­tives out of the Olympics ex­pe­ri­ence and con­tinue with the jour­ney.

“For that, my min- istry made a de­ci­sion to give M120 000 to be shared among the eight ath­letes as a re­ward for their ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment to rep­re­sent the coun­try at the Olympics.”

He said the min­istry’s tar­get was to see ath­letes mak­ing a liv­ing from their God-given tal­ents and be re­warded ir­re­spec­tive of the out­come.

“I know some peo­ple will ques­tion why we give so much money to the ath­letes yet they failed to win a medal. But to us, they did enough for our coun­try and we are en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to fol­low in their foot­steps in com­pet­ing at the Olympics,” the min­is­ter said.

“It is not ev­ery­one who gets a chance to com­pete at the Olympics, and for that I think they de­served to be hon­oured and praised.

He added: “It has be­come a habit for us in Le­sotho to al­ways put crit­i­cism ahead of ev­ery­thing. But we saw the need to re­ward these ath­letes.”

Le­sotho Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee Pres- ident, Mat­lo­hang Moiloa Ramo­qopo, echoed the min­is­ter’s sen­ti­ments, say­ing they were proud of the ath­letes.

“We are proud of these ath­letes, and it is worth not­ing they are not pro­fes­sion­als like the sports­peo­ple they were com­pet­ing against, so they should be ap­pre­ci­ated for their ef­forts,” Ms Ramo­qopo said.

“We are very grate­ful for what the min­is­ter has done as we have never seen any­thing like this be­fore.”

GEN­DER, Youth Sports and Recre­ation Min­is­ter Mathi­beli Mokhothu and LNOC Pres­i­dent, Mat­lo­hang Moiloa Ramo­qopo ad­dress a press brief­ing in Maseru yes­ter­day.

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