Team Lesotho which did the country proud at the just-ended African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games held in Zimbabwe from 5-15 December, has been guaranteed cash rewards ranging from M1000 to M5000 by sports minister Thesele ‘Maseribane.
The team claimed a total of 12 medals— three gold, four silver and five bronze—at the regional, 10-nation tournament held in Bulawayo.
Speaking during the team’s reception held on Tuesday at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena, ‘Maseribane said the athletes deserved recognition for their efforts.
Retšelisitsoe Tšoeu won gold medals in the 800 metre and 1500 metre races , and silver in the 400-metre dash, while Bolae Lekoetje claimed one bronze in the visually impaired athletes category.
Mokulubete Makatise scooped gold in the 1500m and two bronze medals in the 5000m and 3000 m races, with Mapesela Mapesela also winning bronze in the 5000m race.
Boxers Teboho Masia, Teboho Tšiu and Moshoeshoe Monyake each won a silver medal, while Kukutla Motlojoa and Alex Mosehle clinched bronze in the tennis doubles.
‘Maseribane told the athletes and delegates who attended Tuesday’s ceremony that sport had the capacity to change the status of a nation, hence the need to give due recognition to those who do well in such international events.
“Sport can make a country universally known and respected, and the good work is done by hardworking athletes.
“Our medal-ranking has improved as a country, so I would like to thank everyone who has been involved with this team and played a role in its success in Bulawayo. When I was in Zimbabwe with you, I promised that those who were going to do well would be rewarded. As a result, all the officials will each get M2000, while each athlete pockets M1000,” ‘Maseribane said.
“In addition, gold medalists will each pocket M5000, with those who won silver and bronze each taking home M4000 and M3000 respectively.”
‘Maseribane also advised sports administrators to make use of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the country has entered into with South Africa.
“We have an MoU with South Africans who are willing to help us develop our sport, so I would like to encourage our administrators to make use of such an opportunity to develop our athletes. We will also send this team to a high performance training centre in Bloemfontein next year but the dates are yet to be finalised,” said ‘Maseribane.
On his part, Team Lesotho head of delegation, Retšelisitsoe Lephaila, said competition was tough in Bulawayo, hence the team deserved praise for a job well done.
“It was a great journey, from the time we started preparations for the tournament to the competition itself, so I see the 12 medals that we won, as a huge success. We faced many challenges along the way, such as funding, but we still came out with some impressive results in Bulawayo,” Lephaila said.
“We have potential in this country, but we can only realise it fully with enough support from all stakeholders.”
Lephaila also said Lesotho should send a larger team to such tournaments to boost its chances of winning more medals.
“We are always forced to trim our teams due to financial problems, which reduces our chances of winning more medals. Other countries would be having more competitors and end up being top on the medals table, which would not be the case if we also had a similar luxury of taking a larger contingent.”