Athletes fight for national team places

 

Mikia Kalati

The Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) is set to hold a junior track-and-field championship at Setsoto Stadium on Saturday.

The association’s Public Relations Officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, said the competition would be used to select Lesotho’s representatives in next month’s African Junior Track-and-Field Championship scheduled for Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

“We have several international competitions coming up, hence these qualifying tournaments we are holding to make sure our athletes meet the required international standards,” Maphathe said.

“We recently held a cross-country championship in Maseru where we identified 12 runners for national duty, in future.”

Maphathe added the association’s focus was currently on building a team for the Ethiopia meet and African Youth Championship set for Mauritius in April.

“Unfortunately, our challenge at the moment, is funding. We are not sure if we are going to participate in all these races due to lack of finances.”

He continued: “The aim is to have a big pool of athletes in different age-groups and make sure they meet international standards. That way, we will be able to prepare them for competitions such as the All-Africa Games and World Athletics Championship that are also coming up later in the year.

“But like I said, funding is our major headache, and hopefully, the situation is going to improve soon.”

Meanwhile, Maphathe said Tšepang Sello, ‘Mamakatise Mokulubete and Lineo Chaka were among the outstanding athletes during the cross-country championship the LAAA held two weeks ago.

“There is a crop of young talent emerging and I was impressed with what I saw during the cross-country competition. I hope to see more such promise on Saturday at the track-and-field championship,” Maphathe said.

However, Maphathe lamented age-cheating among the athletes, which he said had become cause for concern.

“We have since learnt that some of the athletes have been lying about their ages. However, we are now working closely with schools to make sure the culprits are flushed out before they do a lot of damage to our development efforts.”

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