THE Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) has praised local runners for dominating the recently held High-Altitude Summer Marathon.
Marathon queen Mamoroallo Tjoka successfully defended her title while Teboho Noosi won the race for the first time in the male category last weekend.
Tjoke clocked 3:18:59 to bag the M120 000 first prize while Noosi won in the male category and bagged a similar prize.
Nthabeleng Letsela and Refiloe Khechane were second and third in the female category respectively while Lebenya Nkoka failed to defend his title in the male category and settled for the second place behind Noosi.
Another previous winner and veteran runner, Mabuthile Lebopo, took home the third prize while Teboho Sello finished fourth.
LAAA public relations officer Sejanamane Maphathe told this publication that the 2018 edition of the race was the biggest and the most successful since inception.
“Indeed, we are very happy. I think this year was the most successful in the history of the race,” Maphathe said.
“It was very competitive in all categories and a good display for sport in our country.”
Maphathe said the fact that Noosi edged previous winners Nkoka, Lebopo and Sello is a sign of the growth of the sport in the country.
“The fact that Noosi upset previous winners means that the level of competition has improved. Since Noosi won the race for the first time beating Nkoka, Lebopo and Selle means we are growing.
“This will surely boost his confidence going forward and it also gives us options when we go for competitions outside the country,” he said.
Samukeliso Moyo (2009) of Zimbabwe and Asefa Chelitu Bogela (2013) of Ethiopia are among the foreign athletes to win past editions of the race while Pule Hlabahlaba of South Africa won it in 2015 and Maphathe said it is a welcome development that local athletes have stepped up their game in recent years.
“I think it’s good for the race and athletics in the country that locals are rising to the occasion to ensure that the big prize monies remain in the country.
“It is also helping their confidence so that when they go to compete in other races outside the country they are in good shape,” Maphathe said.
Local runners Jobo Khatoane and Neheng Khatala won the 21km race at the High-Altitude Summer Marathon while Nomankoe Nkhasi and Makampong Letsie won the 10km race.
The newly established 5km race meant for young athletes was won by Thebe Semoko in the male category while Retšepile Mosebetane won in the female category.