‘Unity of purpose develops athletics’
VETERAN marathon runner Mabuthile Lebopo ( pictured) says cooperation among local athletes is imperative to regain dominance of the Soweto Marathon and other lucrative South African races. Lebopo, a past winner of several races in South Africa, made the remarks in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week after Tšepo Mathibelle and Seutloali Khoarahlana came second and third at the Soweto race on Sunday and walk away with M120 000 and M90 000 respectively. Moeketsi Mosuhli finished fifth while Ntebaleng Letšela and Lineo Chaka finished fifth and sixth respectively in the female category. However, the 2004 and 2006 Soweto marathon winner said the country could have done better if only athletes were working together and helping each other. “The performances have been below par in recent years but I think we are slowly finding our way back to the top,” Lebopo said. The 40-year-old runner said during his time, they dominated South African races because they trained together up to the day of the competition. “In the past, we always worked together, knew each other’s weaknesses and strengths. That helped us a lot.
“One time I was not competing in the main race of the Soweto marathon but I knew my competitors were afraid of me because I was a previous winner.
So I went in there and ran half the race before dropping out just to help my colleague. That took attention off my countrymen as they focused on me and in the end one of us won the race.
“So things can only improve if there is unity among the runners,” he said.
Lebopo said Ethiopian and Kenyan runners had taken control of the races as demonstrated by the Sunday result where Ethiopians Sintayehu Legese Yinesu and Selam Abere Alebachew won the female and male categories of the marathon.
“I think we have allowed the politics from administrators to divide us and this must end in order to stop the runners from East Africa,” stated Lebopo.
“We need to reclaim our dominance, but that will come with a lot of planning and working together as a team.
“It is time to put egos aside for the better of athletics in this country,” he said.