Local boxers miss qualifers

MASERU — Four local boxers’ dreams of qualifying for the Olympic Games in London suffered a blow last Thursday after they missed their flight to Morocco, the Lesotho Times can reveal.

The boxers, Mokhachane Moshoeshoe (64kg), Neo Thamahane (56kg), Nturumane Mphahama (60kg) and Moroke Mokhotho (49kg), were due to travel to Casablanca, Morocco, to take part in the Olympic Games qualifiers.

But the four’s dreams of taking part in the Games now appear to have been extinguished after local organisers bungled preparations for the trip.

A source within the Olympic committee told the Lesotho Times on Friday that the athletes missed their plane due to delays in releasing their travel allowances.

The boxers and two coaches only received their allowances on the day of departure and were further delayed in Maseru as they ran around looking for foreign currency.

“They only left the country at 1.35pm to OR Tambo because the team got their money the same day and had to go to the banks to change it into US dollars,” the source said.

The team only arrived at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at 7.15 pm, some 30 minutes after their plane had left.

Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) public relations officer, Moshoeshoe Mokake, on Friday confirmed the team’s failure to travel to Morocco.

“Yes it is true that the boxers failed to leave for the qualifiers in Morocco after they missed their flight on Thursday,” Mokake  said.

Mokake however refused to disclose the reasons behind the boxers’ failure to make it on time at the airport.

“I am not able to give you the details of how they missed their flight because I am yet to get a full report from the person who was organising their trip,” Mokake said.

The Lesotho team came back home on Friday night after being told they could not continue with their trip to Morocco.

Meanwhile, Mokake said they had since applied to the Olympic committee for the boxers to go through the qualifiers outside the continent.

“We will wait and see if our application is approved so that we can start organising for the boxers to go and compete in other qualifying competitions outside Africa,” he added.

So far only two athletes — Jobo Khatoane and Tsepo Ramonene — have qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The duo will contest in the 42.2 kilometre-marathon.

The London Olympic Games are scheduled to run from July 27 to August 12.

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