High-Altitude winners finally get prizes

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Leemisa Thuseho

LESOTHO Sports and Recreation Commission’s (LSRC) acting chief executive officer (CEO) Teboho Malataliana says the 2019 High-Altitude Summer Marathon (HASM) winners will start receiving their prizes this week.

Malataliana on Monday told the Lesotho Times that the LSRC finance department had already started disbursing the funds to the athletes’ accounts while some will be handed cheques.

“Our finance team has already started processing the payments and hopefully by the end of this week, the funds will reflect in the athletes’ accounts,” Malataliana said.

“Some athletes do not have bank accounts and these will be given cheques.”

The marathon was held last December in Mokhotlong and the athletes were expecting their prizes in March.

Last week Malataliana attributed the late disbursement of the winnings to a delay in the submission of doping test results by the South African Doping Control Laboratory in Bloemfontein whose operations were also affected by the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) induced lockdown.

However, Malataliana said they eventually got a green light to start processing the winnings after the laboratory said all the athletes had tested negative.

He poured cold water on suspicions that the delays could be resulting from the LSRC’s financial challenges.

Malataliana said they are doing all in their power to make sure that the athletes get their money as soon as possible considering the ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“We know that the athletes need the money especially during the lockdown where there are no races. This is why we must speed up the process,” Malataliana said.

Bronze medallist in the 21km race, Jobo Khatoane, last week told this publication that the delay has complicated their daily lives as most of the athletes depend on their winnings for survival.

He also lamented that payment delays were now seemingly the trend for local race organisers when in neighbouring South Africa, athletes are paid within three weeks. The athletes were also worried about the lack of communication from the race organisers regarding the prizes.

“We are still waiting and there has not been any explanation on the delay by the organisers,” Khatoane said last week.

Khatoane is expecting M8 000 for finishing behind Letsekang Sekonyela (first) and Tebello Ramakoangoana (second). Sekonyela is expecting M20 000 while Ramakoangoana is expecting M18 000.

Ladies 21km winner, ’Neheng Khatala, is expecting M20 000. The 42km men’s race was won by Lebenya Nkoka, who is expecting M120 000. Kenyan Minicah Jeprkorir Mengich won the ladies’ category and is also expecting M120 000.

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