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Nkhabutlane’s Commonwealth Games bombshell

Moorosi Tsiane

NATIONAL marathon record holder, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane, has pulled out of the Commonwealth Games to be staged in Gold Coast, Australia from 26 March to 15 April, the Sunday Express has learnt.

The 34 year old Nkhabutlane clocked 2 hours 9 minutes and 47 seconds at the Paris Marathon in France in March 2017 to break the long standing 2 hours and 10 minutes record that was set by the legendary, Thabiso Moqhali.

He was one of 22 athletes in Team Lesotho for the Commonwealth Games before opting out in order to focus on competing in either London (England) Marathon or Milan (Italy) Marathon.

“I was left with no choice but to pull out because as much as I have to represent the country I also have to fend for my family,” Nkhabutlane told the Sunday Express.

“I can only fend for them by running and unfortunately we are not getting much for representing the country as we only get the per diem. We still don’t know how much we are going to get.

“The worst part is we are not even getting any support to train for these games and I have to use my own money and resources which will cost me a lot of money.

“I normally prepare for the races of at least four months earlier and I have to spend M2000 on a weekly basis for my physios and food when training for big races.”

The 2015 Two Oceans Old Mutual Marathon winner who now runs for the Pietermaritzburg based club, Save Orion, said he has already informed the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) about his decision.

“It is time that people understood that athletics is work for us and it should be treated as such. I don’t have a problem in representing the country and if given all the support, I am certain that I can win medals but unfortunately LAAA is not willing to meet my demands. We need to be helped. I don’t want to just go there and just run for the sake of it and ruin my reputation.”

LAAA Public Relations Officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, said he was not aware that Nkhabutlane has pulled out of the team. He however, said he was aware the long distance runners had appealed for assistance with their preparations.

“This is the first time I am hearing about this (Nkhabutlane’s withdrawal) and it will be a big blow for us as he is one of our top athletes.

“It is very expensive to prepare for a marathon and some of the runners requested us to assist them with at least M5000 every month from this month until the Games begin. We are in currently discussing their request with the relevant stakeholders (Lesotho Commonwealth Games Association),” Maphathe said.

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