Cash squeeze trims team to the African Games



MASERU – Lesotho will send a much smaller number of athletes than usual to the African Games to be held in Accra, Ghana from March 8 to 23 this year.  The Mountain Kingdom will send eight athletes compared to 27 who represented the country at the last African Games which were held in Rabat, Morocco in 2019.

The eight athletes will compete in four sporting codes compared to the 27 who competed in seven sporting codes.

Of the four sporting codes which are: athletics, boxing, cycling and taekwondo, Lesotho will send three athletes, two boxers, one cyclist and two taekwondo players, respectively.    According to the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC)’s Public Relations Officer, Jobo Pulumo, the country could not afford to send more than eight athletes to Accra due to lack funds.

While Pulumo could not disclose the country’s budget for the games, he said financial constraints remained a challenge.  

“As an example, flight tickets for those eight athletes are too expensive compare for our budget and here we are only talking about transport,” said Pulumo in an interview on Tuesday this week.

“We are yet to talk about preparation, attire and allowances (for the athletes and officials), amongst other things.” Pulumo further said: “This is very disappointing so much that we are even ashamed to talk about the budget.” But Pulumo promised to find the actual budget for Team Lesotho to the African Games.

Team Lesotho for the African Games is yet to be announced, with the Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) likely to propose that the number of athletes be increased.

This is since FAL Secretary General, Makara Thibinyane, said they had about seven athletes who met the requirements for the African Games.  “We have about seven athletes who met the requirements for the African Games, and so we sat as the committee to talk about that and resolved to make a proposal that our quota be increased.”

Thibinyane said out of those seven athletes, five were half marathoners, namely; Mokulubete Makatisi, Namakoe Nkhasi, Kamohelo Mofolo, Tšepo Ramashamole and Tukiso Motlomelo. FAL Secretary further said all of these athletes were ready for the African Games.

“They are all ready for the African Games. Their preparedness is not questionable as they are always preparing for different international events,” he said.

Lesotho won one medal from the last African Games in Rabat, Morocco, a silver by a taekwondo player, Michelle Tau, in women’s -46kg. Again in the previous games, at the time called All Africa Games, Lesotho won silver as its only medal from the continental multi-sport showpiece held in Brazzaville, Congo, while in 2011 it won three bronze medals in Maputo, Mozambique.

In 2007, Lesotho athletes brought home four medals from the games which were held in Algiers, Algeria, comprising one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

This was after the country won two gold, one silver and three bronze medals from the 2003 games which were held in Abuja, Nigeria.

The two gold medals were brought home by Lineo Mochesane in women’s under 47kg and Johannes Komane in men’s under 69kg, while Puleng Lala snatched the silver in women’s over 72kg. Likeleli Thamae, ’Mamokoai Tsoene and Tatolo Letsoela scooped the bronze medals in women’s under 51kg, women’s under 47kg and men’s under 67kg, respectively.  

But the country’s best performance in the African Games was winning six gold, one silver and three bronze medals, finishing on position 10 out of 52 other countries in 1999 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

That was Lesotho’s third time competing in the games, starting from 1991 when the competition which was held in Cairo, Egypt was in its 5thedition, and the Mountain Kingdom managed to win three silver and three bronze medals in its debut.  But in the following games which were held in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1995, Lesotho won one silver and two bronze medals. 

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