Local athletes leave for Mauritius without coach

MASERU — Two local athletes left for training in Mauritius yesterday without their coach because the Lesotho Athletics Amateur Association (LAAA) had no money to pay his travel and accommodation expenses.

Selloane Tšoaeli and Mosito Lehata will be in Mauritius for the next two months as they prepare for the World Championships scheduled for August in South Korea.

The championships will be held from August 27 to September 4.

The two are also expected to take part in the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique in September.

But their preparations have already suffered an early setback because their coach Reynaldo Silas could not travel with them to Mauritius.

LAAA spokesperson Sejanamane Maphathe told the press on Tuesday that Tšoaeli and Lehata’s trip and accommodation expenses are entirely financed by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) after LAAA requested for sponsorship on their behalf.

He however said the LAAA had failed to raise enough money for Silas’ travel.

“When we sat down as an association we discovered that his expenses for these two months in Mauritius amount to M150 000 (US$21 428),” he said.

“We have so far failed to raise this amount and we are calling on all stakeholders including business to come on board and help the coach to join the athletes.”

“It is worrying to us as an association when athletes leave for intensive training such as this without their coach,”

Maphathe said the LAAA is now appealing to the business sector to help fund Silas’ trip. 

He said the association is worried  that Tšoaeli and Lehata’s preparations might  be hampered if Silas does not join them.

“One of our fears is there will be no one to monitor the athletes in Mauritius,” Maphathe said.

“If there is anyone who knows these athletes better it is the coach and we needed him to be there so that he can assess the situation on the ground.”

Silas however said he was happy IAAF had this year decided to sponsor two athletes from Lesotho.

“I think it is important to note that the IAAF has this year appreciated Lesotho’s performance and sponsored our two athletes,” he said.

“This programme is meant for only one athlete from each country but they (IAAF) made an exception for Lesotho because the country is improving every year,” the Cuban coach said.

Meanwhile, Lesotho collected four medals at the just-ended Southern Youth Championships in Namibia last week.

Lerato Sechele and Mokulubete Maketise each collected a gold medal in triple jump and 1 500 metres respectively.

Maketise also won a silver medal in the 3 000 metre race. Makhale Seeli collected a silver medal in the male 3 000 metres race. At the end of the event Lesotho came fourth out of 11 participating countries after garnering four medals.

LAAA general secretary Makhaola Serake said this was one of the few achievements Lesotho has recorded and they called for celebration.

“The association has had and still has problems but this shows that we also have achievements that must be celebrated,” Serake said.

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