Gymnasts shine against odds

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Leemisa Thuseho

LESOTHO’S under-18 gymnastics team rose above pre-tournament challenges to win the country’s first medals in the ongoing African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games.

The games which started last week in Maseru, are expected to end on Sunday.

Gymnastics competitions were held at the Moshoeshoe II High School Hall in Matsieng.

Ahead of the games, the local team had struggled to prepare for the competitions training without tumbling equipment.

The equipment only arrived six days before the games started to give the gymnasts their debut exposure to tumbling equipment.

Instead, local gymnasts have been practicing aerobics and rhythmic gymnastics due to the unavailability of equipment.

Despite all the challenges, the team still bagged silver medals in both ladies’ and men’s competitions. Tlotliso Motsamai won a bronze medal in the men individuals’ competition.

South Africa dominated the competition winning gold medals in both ladies’ and men’s competitions while Zimbabwe finished third in the men’s category.

Mozambique came third in the ladies’ category.

South Africa also won gold and silver in the men’s and ladies’ individuals.

Coach, Mpho Phakisi, who is also the Lesotho Association of Gymnastics public relations officer, congratulated the team for its fighting spirit.

Had the equipment arrived earlier, she believes that the performance could have been even better, she said.

“This is a huge achievement for us considering that equipment only arrived a few days before the competitions,” Phakisi said.

“The athletes were a bit nervous because they were not used to using the equipment but their determination and hunger for victory helped.”

Having won multiple medals despite the shambolic preparations, was a sign of potential, Phakisi said.

The government and business must therefore, invest in the sport.

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