Connect with us


Kudos for Olympic squad



Luciah Phahla

Maseru – The Minister of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation, Mathibeli Mokhothu, last Wednesday rewarded Lesotho’s team at the 2016 Rio Olympics with M120 000 for their efforts.

The athletes arrived back in the country last Tuesday and the following afternoon Mokhothu made his presentation.

The money will be shared amongst Lesotho’s eight member Olympic squad and each will receive M15 000. Mokhothu made the announcement at a ceremony held at the ministry’s offices.

Team Lesotho comprised of track athletes Mosito Lehata, Nomakoe Nkhasi and Tšepang Sello, marathon runners Tšepo Mathibelle and Lebenya Nkoka, boxers Inkululeko Suntele and Moroke Mokhotho, and cyclist Phetetso Monese.

Although none of the athletes won a medal at the Games which ran from August 5 to 21, Mokhothu said qualifying for a big sporting event such as the Olympics was significant in its own right.

He said the athletes had raised the country’s flag and, as a result, raised Lesotho’s profile internationally.

“I would like to applaud the LNOC (Lesotho National Olympic Committee) for the way they have been working in preparation for these Olympics. You worked hard and I am happy to hear that you have taken a step ahead in strengthening and building relationships with other countries,” Mokhothu added.

“To the players, on behalf of the government of Lesotho and the nation, you deserve to be applauded. You went to Brazil because you qualified, unlike other countries whose athletes were invited. Through you, now Lesotho is known internationally and for that we should applaud you,” he said.

“It’s not everyone who can be where you are and as the ministry we have decided to reward all the eight athletes that represented the country in Brazil with M120 000. This money will be shared and each will get M15 000.”

The ceremony also saw LNOC president ‘Matlohang Moiloa-Ramoqopo give her association’s preliminary report on the Games.

Moiloa-Ramoqopo said Lesotho’s athletes showed determination and, compared to the 2012 London Olympics, had more time to prepare.

“We had good preparation for these Olympic Games, we are satisfied our players qualified and were not invited,” she said. “Some countries had not qualified at all and they were invited, countries like Malawi and Swaziland, to mention a few.”

Moiloa-Ramoqopo continued: “We have learnt a lot from our experience in Brazil. We have realised the level of competition is improving, the sports technology has also improved.”

Moiloa-Ramoqopo revealed the LNOC had hoped for a medal in Rio.

“We had expected to bring home a medal,” she said. “We had hoped to win one especially because the country is celebrating its 50th (year of) independence. We received messages from Basotho who were checking up on us and wishing us well and we thank you. Our athletes did not win but if you look at their times they are still in the international standards.”

LNOC chief executive officer Morake Raleaka said the governing body managed to hold meetings with other participating nations and international federations with the aim of building working relations and exploring opportunities for Lesotho’s athletes.

Among the countries LNOC representatives met with were Canada, Japan, the Netherlands as well as the United States of America.

“When we got to Rio we tried to make contacts with different countries and the countries we had meetings with are Canada, Japan, Holland and USA and two international federations being FINA (International Swimming Federation) as well as gymnastics (governing body),” Raleaka said.

“With USA we were looking basically at the scholarship opportunities for our athletes, and how possible it is for our athletes to get scholarships.”

Team Lesotho chef de mission Letsatsi Ntsibolane echoed Moiloa-Ramoqopo’s sentiments that preparations for Rio 2016 were better than for London 2012.

This year Team Lesotho did not have an official send-off because athletes were out of the country preparing for the Games. For example, boxers Suntele and Mokhotho spent July in Cuba while marathon specialist Mathibelle camped in Kenya.

Ntsibolane said the places the athletes went to for their training were hand-picked by their respective associations as the perfect locations for the athletes’ final fine-tuning ahead of the Olympics.

He lamented Lesotho’s luck at the Games.

“In cycling, Monese who competes in the mountain bike, we had faith in him. However, he did not compete as his bicycle chain broke just in the beginning of the race. This is something that has never happened to him even here at home. It was unfortunate,” Ntsibolane said.

“The two boxers fought with the same opponents that beat them in the (African) qualifiers. However, I will not get into the technical stuff, there will be a report for that,” he added.

Ntsibolane continued: “Two marathoners (Lebenya) Nkoka and Tšepo (Mathibelle), I am sure you saw them. In the first 10 to 15 kilometres Tšepo was among the leading group, as well as Nkoka. However, after 35 kilometres he got tired. Tšepo could not finish the race and was taken by an ambulance and the report was his glucose level was too low and there was no way he could finish. Nkoka got tired as well and finished in 95th position.”

Ntsibolane added that 800 metres runner Sello missed her personal best by just a second and he underlined this as an example of positives for the future.

In closing, Ntsibolane said LNOC had pinned its hopes on sprinter Lehata who surprisingly did not make it past the first round of the 100 or 200 metres races. Lehata won silver in the 100 metres at the Africa Senior Championships in June and set a new personal best time of 10.04 seconds.

“We had hoped Mosito Lehata would proceed to the next round,” Ntsibolane said.

“I will not get into technical stuff of what happened at the finish line as there will be a report for that, too. However, we had hoped he would proceed.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Copyright © 2022. The Post Newspaper. All Rights Reserved