‘We are happy but could have done better’


Mikia Kalati

THE Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) says while it is happy with the performance of local athletes at the Sunday Soweto Marathon, they still could have done better.

Mamaroallo Tjoka and Lebenya Nkoka both came second in the male and female categories respectively.

South African Irvette van Zyl successfully defended her title and beat Tjoka and bagged the M250 000 first prize while Ethiopian Sintayehu Legese Yinesu won his fourth Soweto Marathon title finishing ahead of Nkoka.

The two Lesotho runners each pocketed M120 000.

LAAA public relations officer Sejanamane Maphathe said the athletes could have done better especially in the male category where they fielded more runners finishing in the top ten.

“I think our athletes did very well though we could have done better but I think they could have given more especially in the male category,” Maphathe told this publication.

“We had our athletes dominating the male category for the better part of the race and I think had they come with a better plan, they could have taken all the top five positions.

“We had Nkoka, Teboho Noosi, Teboho Sello and Ramolefi Motsieloa all in the top 10. That’s very good for the country but I feel they should have all taken the five top positions.

“On the technical aspects of the race, I think we did not do well. Our approach was poor and should not have given the Ethiopian the lead that easily.”

In the female category, Maphathe believes that van Zyl of South Africa was more prepared than Tjoka but expressed confidence that the Lesotho marathon ‘queen’ will reclaim her place at the prestigious race in the future.

Tjoka is a seven-time Soweto Marathon participant but has not won it in more than five years and was not helped by the recent two-year suspension.

“If you look at the race, the winner broke the 2004 record and I think it shows that she was more prepared than Tjoka. The South African was the better runner at the end of the day but I think Tjoka gave her a run for her money.

“Van Zyl won the race last year and in terms of preparations she was ahead. However, Tjoka is regaining her mojo and still has a chance to reclaim her glory. As much as she is aging, her recent performance has improved in the small races she has run.

“She did very well and I think it’s too early to rule her out of being the best again. I’m confident we will see her best very soon,” Maphathe said.

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