TŠEPO Mathibelle who represented Lesotho at this year’s Rio Olympics in Brazil will be among high profile local runners at this Saturday’s cross country race in Ha Mabote.
According to Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) public relations officer, Sejaname Maphathe, the weekend event is a platform for local runners to fine tune their preparations for the next month’s lucrative annual Soweto Marathon.
Lesotho has dominated the Soweto Marathon over the years with the likes of Lebenya Nkoka, Mabuthile Lebopo, Teboho Sello and Tsotang Maine having won in the male category.
Suspended Mamoroalo Tjoka has won the females’ category of a record seven times and in the process, earned the nickname, “Queen of Soweto”.
“The weekend’s cross country race has been organised to assist athletes that will compete at the Soweto Marathon to get into shape,” Maphathe said.
“It is open to everyone and will feature runners like Mathibelle and his twin brother Tšepang.”
Maphathe also said they recently held a camp for the 12 athletes who will represent the country at the African Union Sports Council Region Five games set for December in Angola.
The team includes 18-year old Tšepang Sello who competed in the 800m race at the Rio Olympics.
Maphathe said the regional competition would be another platform for Sello to continue her development.
Maphathe also said the association would not be holding further competitions this year due to limited funds, adding they hoped next month’s meeting with the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) at a yet to be confirmed venue would assist with solutions.
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“They (IAAF) are aware of our struggles because of the little funds we get from government and will be meeting us to find a solution,” Maphathe said.
Maphathe also revealed that one of the athletes for the Angola event had been expelled from camp after being found guilty of misrepresenting his age for the competition which is open only to athletes below the age of 20.
“These are some of the challenges we face as athletes seem to be cheating on their ages a lot.
“We will also have the national cross country competition early next year to select a team that will represent the country at the Africa Cross country to be staged in Uganda in March,” he added.