THE government has pledged to reward Lesotho’s only athlete in the just ended Paralympics, Litšitso Khotlele, with M20 000 for her efforts during the games.
Although it is still unclear when the money will be handed over to her, the government made the pledge this week.
The games were held in Tokyo, Japan, from 24 August to 5 September this year.
Khotlele was competing in the females’ discus in the F64 category. She threw 22, 75 metres and finished ninth out of 10. She was the only African athlete in that category.
Despite finishing ninth, she set a new personal record by breaking her 20, 34 metres set during the South Africa Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD) National Championships in Port Elizabeth in April this year.
The result was also an improvement from her previous Paralympic Games performance in Rio 2016 where she came 10th after throwing 19, 1 metres.
Khotlele arrived back in the country last Wednesday.
The ministry’s decision to reward Khotlele was announced by Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation Minister, Likeleli Tampane, during the team’s welcome ceremony in Maseru on Monday.
Tampane hailed Khotlele for her dedication and for raising Lesotho’s flag during the games.
“We decided to reward and motivate Khotlele with M20 000 for her great efforts,” Tampane said.
Given the hurdles that Khotlele had to overcome from qualifying and travelling to Japan, it was important for different ministries and government departments to invest in sports.
“It is high time we join hands and invest in sport. I also hope to see the number of Paralympians increasing.”
Last month the government rewarded Khoarahlane Seutloali and ‘Neheng Khatala with M50 000 each for being the only Lesotho athletes during the Tokyo Olympics in July and August this year. Tampane therefore, said it was important to also reward Khotlele.
On her part, Khotlele thanked the sports ministry for its support and promised that she would soon start preparing for the 2024 Paralympics in Paris, France.
“I would like to thank the Lesotho government for its support. I worked very hard and I will keep on improving because I dream of bringing something home one day. I will soon start preparing for the Paris Paralympics.”
Limpho Rakoto, now the president of the National Paralympic Committee (NAPCOL), and Sello Makoanyane were the first to represent Lesotho in the Paralympics in Sydney, in 2000.
In Athens, Greece in 2004, Lesotho was represented by Rakoto and Sello Mothebe. The country was represented by Moretlo Letšoara in 2008 in Beijing, China.
Khotlele and Mothebe participated in the Rio Paralympics in 2016.