Khoarahlane books Tokyo Olympics spot

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Moorosi Tsiane | Bataung Moeketsi

LONG distance runner Seutloali Khoarahlane put up a good show at the last weekend’s Cape Town Marathon and became the first Mosotho athlete to book a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Khoarahlane came fifth in the prestigious Cape Town Marathon after clocking 02:11:01 to book a spot in this quadrennial multi sporting event which is scheduled for Japan’s capital Tokyo.

Seasoned marathoner Motlokoa Nkhabutlane however, missed out on the opportunity to qualify for the same games after clocking 02:12:07 and settling for seventh.

In the female category, Neheng Khatala failed to qualify after coming seventh clocking 02:36:32.

Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) spokesperson Sejanamane Maphathe praised Khoarahlane for qualifying for the games. He said he was happy that the athlete would also have ample time to prepare for the games.

“It is good that we at least have athletes qualifying for the events early so that they can now focus on preparations for the games unlike when they qualify late,” Maphathe said.

“I think he had a good race and he has the potential of doing well, he just needs to keep on working hard.”

He was however, quick to say it was too early to rule out Nkhabutlane and Khatala as they have until next May to qualify.

“It is not over yet. There are races they can still use to qualify for next year’s Olympics. They have until May next year but the disadvantage of qualifying late limits one’s time to preparations. For me, it is best to qualify before March next year,” he said.

On behalf of the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC), the head of sport service Mark West, said that they were happy for Khoarahlane. He said they were aware of the hard work he put in during the preparations for the Cape Town Marathon.

“He is one of the athletes we expected to reach the qualifying standards of the 2020 Olympics along with his teammate Nkhabutlane,” West said.

Meanwhile, Maphathe says Lesotho will only be represented by 800 metres runner Tšepang Sello at the World Championships from 27 September to 6 October. The biennial International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will be held in Doha, in Qatar.

Maphathe said marathoners Khatala, Nkhabutlane and Khoarahlane had initially qualified to compete in Qatar but decided to use the Cape Town Marathon as their Olympic qualifiers.

“Three of our athletes had qualified for the World Championship but they decided to go for the Cape Town Marathon since they were eying Olympic qualification.”

With the trio out of the picture to represent Lesotho in Qatar, Maphathe said they had no option but to look for an alternative. He said Sello was the only local athlete who came close to qualifying for the games and was therefore allowed to represent Lesotho starting next week. He said each member country was expected to have a representative at the World Championship.

“We must be represented in Qatar and Sello was the only athlete who came close with her times. We had hoped Mosito Lehata (sprinter) would qualify but he failed and we will only have one athlete.

“Mosito’s times are 10:15 and the qualifying time for the 100m is 10:05 so he cannot go.”

He said Sello has been on a promising path although she faces stiff competition.

“The 800m and 1500m races are one of the most competitive and in as much as Sello hasn’t won, she is a promising athlete. We just hope that she will finally get there because she also has to improve with her age,” said Maphathe.

“She is running with the likes of the Caster Semenya (World and Olympic champion). There are also some Kenyans in the same category, so her competition is stiff,” Maphathe said.

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