MASERU – Lesotho Olympic hopefuls Moroke Mokhotho and Arena Pakela are in Zambia to prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. The Olympic Games, which were supposed to be held last year, have been rescheduled to take place between July 23 and August 8 this year following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic beginning last year.
According to the Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA)’s Public Relations Officer, Rethabile Ntiea, his organisation has decided to send the two boxers to Zambia in a bid to intensify their preparation ahead of the Tokyo Games. The two boxers, who left last Thursday, are under the guidance of Hopolang Mabele (in Zambia) as the new national boxing coach.
This, Ntiea said, was despite the fact that none of Lesotho’s boxers had qualified for the Olympics. But he said there’s a likelihood both boxers or either one of them could eventually make it to the Tokyo Games.
“Although none of our boxers has qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, we have however advised ourselves as the leadership of boxing in the country to intensify the training of our two best boxers, Moroke Mokhotho and Arena Pakela,” said Ntiea in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday.
Ntiea said this was after the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) had found it necessary to apply for what is called a tripartite for Morotho who is currently under Olympic Solidarity sponsorship, for him to be able to take part at the Tokyo Olympic Games through a quota system.
“But a response to that request is yet to be made as to whether his application has been successful or not.” Ntiea said, fortunately for Pakela when the boxing Olympics Qualifiers were recently cancelled due to Covid-19 induced international travel restrictions, a qualifying method for the Tokyo Games was as a result decided and this may see the boxer getting an opportunity of an Olympics slot as one of top ranking boxers (in the 75 kg) on the African continent.
“Fortunately for us Arena Pakela ranks in the Top 5 in Africa and as fate would have it, the boxer who ranks Number One is said to have qualified (for the Tokyo Olympics), while Number Two is said to have turned professional.
“The Number Three boxer is unlikely to make it to the Games due to the escalation of the coronavirus in his country.” Ntiea said he’s not sure what problems boxer Number Four is facing. “So this basically means in this case Pakela is the next and as a result we had to make a request for him to be included under Mokhotho’s Olympic sponsorship for training in Zambia. Ntiea further said: “But it may however happen that both of them could end up not being successful in their quest for the Tokyo Olympics or one of them could make it.”
The boxers, Ntiea said, were expected to spend 48 days in Zambia. Mokhotho, 30, has been to the Olympic Games before as he competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil where he lost in his first Olympic bout to Moroccan boxer Achraf Kharroubi in the first round. But it is not the same case with Pakela who is looking to make his first appearance in the Olympic Games, after a fine performance at the 2019 African Games and which saw him ranking 5th on the continent.