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Moloisane’s Olympic dream shattered

Leemisa Thuseho

OLYMPIC hopeful Marumo Moloisane’s official residency in Germany, where he was training under a scholarship is ending this month.

Moloisane has been training at the Taekwondo Competence Centre (TCC) in Germany since 2017 under the under auspices of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Solidarity Athletes Scholarship that was awarded through the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC).

The four-year taekwondo scholarship ends on 31 August 2020.

LNOC says the scholarship could not be renewed after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed to next year because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Other athletes who have been supported under the same scholarship include athletes, Mosito Lehata, Lerato Sechele and Tšepang Sello as well as Moroke Mokhotho (boxing), and Tumelo Makae (cycling).

All these, except for Moloisane, had their scholarships extended from April this year until next year because of the postponement of the Olympics.

According to the LNOC, Moloisane’s scholarship has been hanging in the balance after failing to qualify for the Olympics in the qualifiers held earlier. Moloisane’s last hope was in the tripartite category but unfortunately, the weight category he was targeting was taken up by a Japanese athlete.

LNOC’s High Performance Coordinator, Likeleko Lepitla, said the LNOC was looking forward to following the right procedures in bringing Moloisane back home under the World Health Organisation Covid-19 protocols.

“There is no scholarship extension for Moloisane because the taekwondo qualifiers are already over. We applied for the tripartite place but unfortunately his category has been taken by a Japanese athlete. As the host country, Japan has the privilege of bringing in a larger team and occupy as many categories as possible in each sporting code,” Lepitla said.

This is the second time that Moloisane has missed a chance to represent Lesotho at the Olympics. The first time was in 2016 ahead of the Rio Olympics, in Brazil after losing 3-0 to Morocco’s Omar Hajjami during the African Olympic qualification tournament held in Agadir, Morocco, from 6 to 7 February. He was, nevertheless, honoured with a bronze medal after the tournament.

Meanwhile, another athlete, Michelle Tau, is also training at TCC in Germany. Initially, Tau went to Germany under self-sponsorship until January this year when the LNOC started assisting her.

Asked about the way forward regarding Tau, Lepitla said the LNOC would soon engage the Lesotho Taekwondo Association (LTA) to make the final decision on Tau.

“There are a lot of things to consider in Tau’s placement before we decide on what to do and such issues are discussed with the relevant national federation. Therefore, I can’t say whether or not we will continue assisting her,” Lepitla said.

On the other hand, LTA acting president, Nthati Theko, said the association wanted both athletes back home to make a fresh bid for support.

“In taekwondo, athletes win scholarships based on their performance, so for them to get any assistance, they must come home and restart the qualifying process together with other athletes. It would be unfair for other athletes if we give the duo priority over others only because they have already benefited from a certain programme or scholarship,” Theko said.

Thakane Tau, mother to the athlete, told the Sunday Express she still wanted her daughter to remain at the TCC as she had set her eyes on the 2024 Olympics qualifications and was determined to continue financing her stay in Germany.

Thakane said she had already written to LTA requesting for association’s commitment and to approve her for the competitions.

“If this is what it takes for the future of my daughter, I am ready to continue sponsoring her,” she said.

She said since Tau’s arrival in Germany early last year, she has been taking care of everything until January this year when LNOC came on board.

“I have been doing all I can to help my daughter pursue her career and I have committed to continue with what I have started although it is not an easy task for a single parent,” Thakane added.

Even though she hasn’t received any official response from LTA regarding her proposal, she said she was aware of the association’s intention to bring back home Tau and Moloisane.

“As sponsor and mother, I am aware of LTA intentions to bring back home the athletes but they haven’t said anything to me. I want them answer my proposal so that I will make an informed decision,” she said.

Tau said does not support the idea of recalling the athletes as they may lose their form.

“Any assistance towards their upkeep while in Germany will be highly appreciated,” Thakane said.

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