Give long distance runners more support


Mikia Kalati

LESOTHO continued with its dominance of the lucrative Soweto Marathon on Sunday with Tšepo Mathibelle romping to victory and claiming the M200 000 first prize.

It was even more impressive that Lesotho had three other athletes in the top ten in the male category of the main race while Ntebaleng Letšela finished fifth in the female event. Nomakoe Nkhasi won the 10km category of the race.

The Soweto Marathon is not only one of the biggest races in Southern Africa but in the entire continent as it also attracts East African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia as well as Uganda who have proved to be powerhouses when it comes to long distance running.

This is the race that Mamoroallo Tjoka has won a record seven times while her male colleagues like Mabuthile Lepopo, Moeketsi Mosuhli, Teboho Sello and Lebenya Nkoka have also won it in the past.

It is not only the Soweto Marathon but a host of South Africa races where our athletes have excelled.

This is why I think it is time that our government provided more resources to help in the development of long distance runners.

I must admit that before Mathibelle’s triumph, I was really worried that our dominance was fading away after the Ethiopians won the male and female categories in the 2016 edition.

This had to do with the fact that the majority of our past winners are past their prime and we do not appear to have a good system in place to replace them.

And while Mathibelle has stood up to be counted, we still need to groom more athletes to take over from the likes of Lepopo, who at 40 years, is reaching the end of a glittering career.

We just cannot pin our hopes on a single athlete. The Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association have to come with a good plan to ensure that we have more athletes that can succeed at this level.

Dominating South African races is not enough and we need to take that talent to the highest level such as the Olympics and other big races across the globe.

The corporate world should also play their part as is the case in South Africa where a number of athletes are under the stable of companies such as Nedbank.

Before I conclude my business for this week, I would like to congratulate my two colleagues, Moorosi Tsiane and Thabelo Monamane who scooped the Best Print Journalist and Photographer of the year accolades at last week’s Alliance Media Awards.

Monamane is by far the best photographer in the country. He is a humble and dedicated professional who I am proud to have worked with for the last decade.

As for Tsiane, I can even call myself his mentor as I oversaw his baby steps in this profession.

I remember the passion and hunger he showed for journalism even sacrificing his lunch break to submit his work at our then Happy Villa offices.

I cannot forget the smile that he had upon seeing his by-line in the newspaper for the first time.

His development was also helped by the fact that Africa Media Holdings had a very powerful newsroom full of seasoned journalists.

I must say, I was also surprised at how quickly he was able to settle down once he joined our team and is now among the best young sports reporters in this country.

I am proud of you mates!

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