‘Unity of pur­pose de­vel­ops ath­let­ics’

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

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.

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