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Basotho athletes’ grip on SA marathons loosening

Pascalinah Kabi MASERU — It is official.Lesotho athletes’ long grip on South African marathons is coming to a close.

Confirmation of this fact came two weeks ago when Lesotho’s top athletes performed dismally in the Comrades Marathon in Durban.

Only two Basotho managed to get positions in the top ten with Leboto Noto and Lephethesang Adoro coming third and seventh respectively.

Lesotho’s athletes have since last year failed to collect any medals in the lucrative South African races.

Mabuthile Lebopo, Tsotang Maine, Teboho Sello, Lebenya Nkoka, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane, Lebohang Mahloane and Warinyane Lebopo have all competed in the Two Oceans, Comrades and Soweto Marathons since last year but failed to leave any mark. ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka is the only local top athlete who successfully retained her Soweto Marathon title last year.

Commonwealth gold medallist and athletics coach, Thabiso Moqhali, said the poor performance is a result of local athletes’ decision to self-coach.

“First, our athletes run on their own, they are self-coached and as a result they miss important training variations in their daily training,” Moqhali said.

He said the local athletes are not aware that self-coaching is dangerous to any sportsperson. Variations in training are very important to any athlete who is preparing for a competition.

“What happens is that when the body has adapted to any type of training, it needs to be introduced to different types of training so that it can keep on pushing during competitions.

“And if one is self-coaching, there is no way they can be able to introduce variations of training because that can only be done by a coach,” Moqhali said.

He said local athletes need to consider approaching coaches if they still want to continue developing their careers.

He said mature athletes know that the level of training for any competition needs to be drawn up by a coach.

Lesotho Athletics Amateur Association (LAAA) public relations officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, shared the same sentiments with Moqhali, saying the symptoms of the rot were first shown early last year.

“The symptoms of losing our dominance in the South African marathons were first shown at the beginning of last year but we thought it was just bad luck and we would bounce back,” Maphathe said.

He said Lesotho was heading towards dangerous shores unless top local athletes commit themselves to get supervised coaching.

“Our top athletes have resorted to training on their own and I have never heard of any internationally recognised top athlete who trains on their own anywhere in the world,” Maphathe said.

“Before last year, they were still performing well because they had just left supervised training but as time went on they lost the grip because no one can coach themselves.”

He said Lesotho’s was set to lose its dominance of regional races unless athletes go back to the drawing board.

“Unless they decide to seek help in terms of coaching, we are heading for danger because they will continue with their current poor performance,” he said.

He said Tjoka was still performing well because she and Maine are under coach, Kenneth Hlasa.

“The athlete who came seventh at the Comrades Marathon, Lephethesang, has been performing dismally in recent times,” Maphathe said.

“Then he was self-coaching like most of our local stars but just a year under coach Cliff Chinnasamy in Durban, he performed really well,” he said.

Maphathe said local stars still have more years to go before they can retire but they seriously need to reconsider their decisions to be on their own.

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