Performance-based contracts for African Games

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as Lesotho’s eight athletes fine-tune preparation for the continental multi-sport showpiece 

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – The Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) will announce performance rewards to motivate the athletes to push hard and win medals at the upcoming African Games, which will take place in Accra, Ghana, next month.

Lesotho will compete with eight athletes: three runners, two boxers, one taekwondo player, plus one unnamed Paralympic taekwondo athlete and one cyclist.

All three runners, Mokulubete Makatisi, Namakoe Nkhasi, and Tšepo Ramashamole, will compete in the half marathon, while the two boxers, Retšelisitsoe Kolobe and Mathealira Seholoholo, will compete in the men’s 46 kg and 64 kg divisions, respectively. Kabelo Makatile and Michelle Tau will be Lesotho’s lone competitors at the games, the former in cycling and the latter in taekwondo.

Tau, who just qualified for the upcoming Olympic Games during the African Qualification Tournament, which was held in Dakar, Senegal, last Saturday and Sunday, became the only Lesotho athlete out of 27 who represented the country at the last African Games, which were held in Rabat, Morocco, in 2019, to win a medal from the continental multi-sport showpiece. Tau won silver in the women’s 46 kg division.  LSRC public relations officer, Jobo Pulumo, said, unlike before, this time around the Sports Commission would enter into performance-based contracts with the athletes ahead of the upcoming African Games. 

He said they would do that to encourage the athletes to do better at international level. “We are adopting a new method of performance boost to encourage our athletes to do well at international level,” said Pulumo in an interview with Public Eye.

“Yes, they will still get stipends as usual, but unlike before, this time around our athletes will get money if they win medals.” Pulumo further said: “We are going to sign contracts based on performance with them as a way to encourage them not to go to the games to participate but to compete.

“We go there to win, and we want them to win. We want to see commitment. Lesotho, like other countries, must be on the podium.” Pulumo said Tau would join her teammates in Accra from Spain, where she’s currently preparing for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.

“She is not coming back home from Spain. We will meet her in Ghana,” he said. “There is another local taekwondo player who will start camping with her very soon. He is already preparing until we leave for Ghana.”

Lesotho’s lone cyclist at the upcoming African Games, Makatile, is also preparing out of the country.

According to the Federation of Cycling Lesotho’s (FCL) public relations officer, Malefane Morie, Makatile is currently in Kigali, Rwanda in preparation for next year’s UCI Road World Championships to be held in Africa for the first time.

 “Makatile has been invited to a training camp in Rwanda in preparation for the Road World Championships to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, next year,” said Morie. “He is one of the African cyclists who have been selected to represent the continent at the biggest race (the Road World Championships) in the world.”

Morie said Makatile left for the Rwanda camp on January 18 and is expected to come back today, February 16. Pulumo said like Tau, who’s currently in Spain in preparation for the Olympic Games ahead of the African Games, the Rwanda camp would also be crucial for Makatile’s preparation ahead of the same African Games.

He said the athletics trio—Nkhasi, Makatisi, and Ramashamole—would also have an opportunity to intensify their preparation for the African Games in South Africa.

The boxing duo, he said, Seholoholo and Kolobe, also went for a camp in Afriski at the beginning of the year.

“They began preparations immediately after the Christmas holidays, going for a camp at Afriski, and came back now in January,” Pulumo said. “They are also going to be busy with activities this month, including going for sparring sessions in SA as part of their preparation for the African Games.”

Pulumo said Team Lesotho would leave for Accra on March 6, except for the athletic trio, who would remain at home until later so that they could preserve their high altitude advantage against their opponents.  “The first group to leave will be the boxers, taekwondo players (Tau and the Paralympics taekwondo athletes), and cyclists.  

“The athletics team will leave later since their competition will be towards the end of the games, and we found it wise for them to remain at home so that they could not lose their high altitude opportunity.”

Pulumo also said remaining at home would benefit the three runners since it’s very hot in Ghana.

“So staying at home will help our athletes keep cool ahead of their competition since it is also very hot in Ghana,” he added.  

Lesotho will be sending a smaller number of athletes than ever before to the African Games, with the main challenge being a lack of funds.

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