Lesotho athletes rule Soweto race

MASERU — Local athletes, Lebenya Nkoka and Mamoroallo Tjoka, are M100 000 richer after they won the Soweto Marathon in the men and women’s categories last Sunday.

The Basotho athletes put behind their bitter dispute with the Lesotho Athletics Amateur Association (LAAA) over the issue of contracts to dominate the race.

Nkoka clocked 2 hours, 19 minutes and 48 seconds with Teboho Sello coming second at 2:20:10.

Motlokoa Nkhabutlane was third at 2:21:18 while Moeketsi Mosuhli came fourth at 2:21:19.

Brothers Warinyane Lebopo and Mabuthile Lebopo came fifth and six respectively with fellow countryman, Sechaba Bohosi, coming a distant 10th.

In the female category, Tjoka clocked 2:48:36 followed by Hungary’s Simone Staicu (2:49:20) with South Africa’s Charne Bosman finishing third at 2:58:12.

The LAAA last week refused to issue permits to allow the athletes to take part in the race demanding that they should first produce their contracts with their sponsors.

The eight only managed to take part in the race after the intervention of Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) chief executive officer Kholoang Mokalanyane.

They only managed to leave the country on Friday night and Saturday morning after their desperate pleas to take part in the race were granted.

Nkoka told the Lesotho Times this week that it was a miracle that he has managed to win the race as he had been psychologically affected by the dispute over permits.

“The competition was very tough and I don’t even know how I won it,” Nkoka said.

“I won it through God’s grace and power.”

He said they had been seriously affected by the dispute over permits.

“It was not by my wisdom (that I won this race) because like any other local athlete, I was psychologically affected by the permit issue,” Nkoka said.

The 28-year-old said he was going to sit with his family to decide how to spend the prize money.

“I have big plans but I need to sit with my family and plan how we are going to spend the money,” he said.

The athletes’ spokesman, Mabuthile Lebopo, said the athletes had won the race through God’s guidance.

“We thank God that we were able to win the race despite the association’s attempts to stop us from competing,” Lebopo said.

“This affected us psychologically,” he said.

He also paid tribute to the organisers of the race for allowing them to compete while the dispute raged on.

“We left without permits after we consulted with the race organisers and explained our problem with the association.

“They understood our problem especially that we had consulted with the commission (LSRC) for help.

“So the organisers of the marathon gave us the permission to compete,” Lebopo said.

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