. . .Despite running shoes headache
If Mokulubete Makatisi had managed to get competition attire on time she could have put up a far better performance than she has done at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. Athletics experts are convinced had she not received new running shoes late during the marathon, she was definitely going to put up a superb performance.
Makatisi, 26, finished the race on position eight in the women’s commonwealth marathon last Saturday. Lesotho’s lone female marathoner at the Birmingham games, clocked 2:36:05 to register a national personal best from her previous 2:44:42. Makatisi’s mentor, Mokete ‘Chaplin’ Mpomane, says his athlete has tried very hard despite the setback of having to run in new shoes which she began to use for the first time on the day of the race.
“Makatisi ran very well. She tried very hard,” said Mpomane in an interview with Public Eye a day after the race. “She has done exactly what we have agreed about before the race.” Mpomane further said: “It is true that she was let down by lack of competitive races before the Commonwealth Games, but when it comes to performance she really did well.” But Mpomane’s biggest grievance was the delay to provide Makatisi with the competition attire.
“She got her competition attire at night on the eve of the race and this is really unacceptable. I don’t know when our sports managers will stop this behaviour. Our athletes always get competition attire very late, but they are still expected to perform well under such conditions.” Mpomane said it’s crucial for athletes to get running shoes on time, so that their feet would get used to them, well ahead of the competition. As Makatisi’s coach, Mpomane is not part of team athletics’ coaches to the Birmingham games.
Former Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (now the Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL)’s treasurer, Kokolia Mokonyana, also lauded Makatisi for putting up a good performance in Birmingham. “She ran very well, even though I strongly hold that if she was under the guidance of a long-distance coach of high stature or at least his mentor, Mpomane, who knows her very well, she could have performed better than she has done,” said Mokonyana.
Lesotho’s athletics team for the Birmingham Commonwealth games is under the guidance of Andreas Telang and Khauta ’Makhoana. And Mokonyana, who is also a former athlete himself, said the two are just average trainers. “The coaches who are given the responsibility of leading team athletics over there are just average coaches. None of them have produced even a single athlete so far so I doubt their capability of leading such a big team.”
Lesotho team athletics has sent 10 athletes to the games. “Despite all that, Makatisi’s performance was generally good. She has recorded her personal best and I would say if she could be managed and prepared well for the upcoming Olympic Games, we will definitely have a second female marathoner to partner with ’Neheng Khatala at the Olympics.” President of the Mafeteng District Athletics Association, Tlotliso Ntai, also lauded Makatisi for an impressive performance in Birmingham.
“Makatisi, has put up a fine performance,” said Ntai. “She has really fought hard throughout the race, being among the first bunch and having sustained the pace of the competition.” Ntai shared the same sentiments with Mokonyana that Makatisi must be prepared for the 2024 Olympic Games, owing to her Birmingham Commonwealth Games performance. “According to me, she has done well and, as a result, she must be prepared for the upcoming Olympic Games. She is currently one of the best athletes Lesotho has.”
Ntai further said: “She has made us proud so an athlete like her must be motivated.” The athletics boss also said Makatisi must be among Lesotho’s athletes who are currently on the Olympic Solidarity Sponsorship for the 2024 Olympic Games or should get some sponsorship for the preparation of the upcoming Olympics. “She is very good and she just needs few touch ups here and there,” Ntai said. “An athlete like her also needs to be prepared mentally.”
Ntai also said Lesotho athletes needed enough time to acclimatise with the Birmingham weather, which he said wasn’t the case since Team Lesotho left the country four days before the start of the games. “The fact that athletes need time to acclimatise with the weather is very important. Our athletes did not have enough time to rest since they only had a few days before the games and could not get time to acalmatise with the weather over there before the games,” Ntai said. FAL Secretary General, Makara Thibinyane, on the other hand said
Makatisi’s performance made them very proud as the Lesotho athletics mother body. “Makatisi’s performance is one of the things that has made us very happy as the federation, to realise a growth like this,” said Thibinyane. “This is her second marathon and she qualified by a hair’s breadth to finally make it to the marathon team.” Thibinyane further said: “So we are really happy because now we will be able to have a replacement in case one of our female marathoners gets tired.”
The FAL secretary also believed if it was not because of getting the competition attire very late, Makatisi could have performed better than she has done. “Of course the competition attire’s issue is crucial, especially running shoes and we believe if it was provided on time she could have performed better than she has done.” On the other hand, Makatisi’s male marathon teammates, Lebenya Nkoka, Tšepo Mathibelle and Motlokoa Nkhabutlane all performed below par in their category. Nkoka ended the male marathon in position 15 on 2:32:52`1, Mathibelle in position 17 on 2:38:52, while Nkhabutlane did not finish the race.