CHESS starlet Tokelo Klaas has attributed hard work and commitment to his latest achievements that have seen him being nominated for a Lesotho Annual Sport Award (LASA) in the Sportsman of the Year category.
The 22-year old National University of Lesotho student is competing with another chess sensation Theko Khanyapa, whose form has also been on the rise winning last month’s chess championship tournament and last weekend’s Albert Moroka Open Chess Championship in Free State.
The duo will also be in competition with former national chess champion Sechaba Khalema.
The trio automatically qualified for the Sports Star of the Year category where the public will vote for the winner unlike in the Sportsmen of the Year category where the winner is selected by an evaluation panel.
Also in contention for the Sports Star of the Year category are Neheng Khatala, Lerato Sechele (both from athletics) and another rising chess star Malehloa Likhomo.
Klaas has been enjoying a great run with a series of good results in most of the tournaments that he has participated in since last year and he told the Sunday Express that he was happy that his hard work is paying off.
“I am happy that finally, my strides are finally being noticed because I have been working hard from the past few years to be where I am now,” Klaas said.
“This nomination will indeed be a motivation for me to continue working even harder.”
He however, said the nomination came earlier than he expected.
“I wasn’t expecting it to come this soon but I guess other people saw it differently and I am happy that at least people are finally realising my hard work,” he said.
Klaas, who was the 2018 national chess champion and lost out the title last year he came out second at the Albert Moroka Open Chess Championship after Khanyapa.
The fourth-year Bachelor of Pharmacy student admitted that it is indeed challenging to juggle his studies and playing chess.
“It’s quite difficult to juggle between school and chess. I spend most of my time focusing on my school work and less on my chess. I normally train myself two or one days prior to a tournament but this will change when I graduate. A serious chess player normally invests about three to five hours daily on their chess.
“I get support from my coach, who is also the national instructor, Masilo Mafube. I also get motivation from my fellow nominees, who are both my club (NUL chess Club) and National team mates,” Klaas concluded.