Taekwondo gaffe embarrasses Lesotho

Chances for Tokyo Olympics blurred


MASERU – A dismal showing by three of Lesotho’s taekwondo four-man team, coupled with the ineligibility of Ramosoeu Nkuebe to compete in the African Qualification Tournament in Morocco this week have dampened the country’s chances of a representation in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.

The quartet was in Morocco’s capital, Rabat from February 22 to 23 for the Tokyo, Japan, qualification games; the Tokyo Olympics as scheduled for July 29 to August 9 this year.

Marumo Moloisane, Michelle Tau and Rethabile Tjotjo tried their luck for qualification in Rabat while, though included as a fourth member of Team Lesotho, Nkuebe was relegated to the stands because he was not registered with the sport’s international body.

According to Lesotho Taekwondo Association (LTA) PRO, Sekhokhe Molise, the local association “was made aware of the error at the eleventh hour with the quartet already in Rabat for the qualifiers.”

“Initially we had put up a team of three players to go to the qualifiers, and Nkuebe was not among those. He was later included in the squad and that’s where the oversight in registering him properly was made,” Molise said in an interview with Public Eye on Monday this week.

Molise said the four fighters’ licenses had to be renewed ahead of the games, and reasons after that process was finished and “the list was released we thought we had prepared everything.”

He said it was already done when they were made aware of the registration error.

“When we wanted to rectify that error we were told it would infringe on fair play and transparenc,” he continued.

Molise revealed the fighter has been greatly demoralized by the bungle, “so much that we don’t know what to say to him.”

“He is extremely discouraged by what happened, so much that I am even afraid to talk to him about this,” he added.

“You can imagine how it feels preparing for a competition and when it’s time to compete you find that you are actually not registered for the competition.”

Nkuebe’s teammates, Tau, Tjotjo and Moloisane were all eliminated in the preliminary stage of the qualifiers, and Molise said since none of the players qualified for the Tokyo Olympics the association would now have to rely on their rankings to see whether they might get through to Japan as wild-cards.

He pointed out that this turn of events meant Lesotho’s chances of taking a taekwondo team to Japan were evidently slim, compared to fellow African countries with whom they compete in grand prix events.

Nkuebe has competed in one grand prix tournament held in South Korea two years ago, while Tau and Moloisane are currently in Germany at the Taekwondo Competence Centre where they have also been afforded an opportunity to fight in grand prix events.

“Fighters who have more advantage (when it comes to getting wild-cards) are only those who compete at the grind pix tournaments regularly, while players have missed such tournaments due to financial constraints,” Molise added.

Lesotho failed to make an appearance in taekwondo in the last Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016; with the last local taekwondo player to qualify for the Olympics being Lineo Mochesane in 2004 (in Athens, Greece).

She lost in the first round to Australia’s Nevena Lukic.







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