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We were undone by poor preps



Luciah Phahla


Lesotho’s premier rider Phetetso Monese says a lack of preparation hampered the country’s performance at last week’s African Continental Mountain Bike (MTB) Championships.

The championships were held at the AfriSki Mountain Resort in Butha-Buthe and ran from last Wednesday until last Sunday.

Monese finished third in the XCM–Marathon in a time of 3:18.10 minutes, six minutes behind second-placed Costa Seibab of Namibia.

Speaking to thepost yesterday, Monese said while competition was high, the main difficulty Lesotho riders faced was inadequate preparation.

Monese races for the ACE-The Sufferfest-Lesotho MTB team and is the highest ranked black African rider on the International Cycling Union (UCI) MTB rankings. He said the under-preparedness was caused by uncertainty over whether the championships would go ahead as planned.

The Lesotho Cycling Association (LCA) struggled to raise funds to host the showpiece. Just three weeks ago, LCA president Sehaole Mpopo said the association was still hoping to be bailed out by the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation.

“The championships were of a high level but we were not well prepared for them because normally competitions here at home do not go on as planned,” Monese said.

“We were not sure whether the championships would go on because we heard the association was struggling to raise funds. We then heard that they have money and the championships would go on, that’s when we started preparing. To prepare for such championships one needs several months; we only started serious preparations a month before,” he said.

The 31-year-old specialist said he was pleased with his performance at the continental championships saying it was of a high level. In addition, his teammate Malefetsane Lesofe finished fourth in the XCM–Marathon.

However, Monese said their performances could have been better.

“The race was not difficult. I think maybe if we had stayed there (at the venue) a week before the championships, as had been planned, then it would have been better. We battled to breathe due to the altitude but I forced to reach the finish,” Monese said.

Nine countries – Egypt, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Namibia and hosts Lesotho – participated in the championships and in the end the showpiece was dominated by neighbouring South Africa.

Looking ahead, Monese said he has several tournaments lined up this year with the next being on May 17 in Clarens, South Africa.

However, Monese expressed his disappointment at missing out on the 2016 Olympic Games after Lesotho missed the main MTB qualifying tournament in Rwanda last year.

This year’s African championships also carried Olympic qualifying points but the points gained at the event are not enough to see Lesotho qualify for Rio 2016.

“It was my wish to qualify for the Olympics but we will see what happens. For now I am preparing for the next championships (in Clarens), but it is a disappointment,” Monese said.

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