‘Local athletes risking careers’

MASERU — The Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA)’s spokesman has warned that athletes are putting their careers at risk by taking part in too many races.

Sejanamane Maphathe said poverty and unemployment were forcing local athletes to enter as many races as possible, especially in South Africa, with the aim of winning cash prizes. 

There are at least six long-distance races in South Africa every year, of which the winning prize for each is not less than M60 000.

Maphathe said Lesotho’s best long-distance runners were not employed, depending entirely on the South African races to make ends meet.

“Because of poverty and unemployment, we have for the past years compromised their (long-distance runners) careers by making them participate in more than three road races per year,” Maphathe told the Lesotho Times this week.

“Our best long-distance runners are depending entirely on the huge South African race prize monies for their daily living.”

Maphathe said the practice not only caused fatigue but forced athletes to retire early.

“This practice of over-racing causes fatigue or early retirement because they easily get worn out,” he said.

Maphathe singled out Thabiso Moqhali as an exemplary athlete because he did not strain himself by taking part in too many races.

Moqhali won gold for Lesotho at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia.

“The only professional athlete Lesotho has ever produced was Thabiso Moqhali, who won gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia,” Maphathe said. “He respected his career. He never competed in more than three races per year.”

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