LESOTHO athletics team coach, Makoekoe Mahanetsa, says the team’s officials should shoulder the blame for starlet ‘Manqabang Tsibela’s disqualification from the 800m race at the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games. Tsibela, who was one Lesotho’s medal hopefuls, was on Friday disqualified for not wearing both her race bibs.
She was supposed to have two race bobs, one at the back and the other at the front. However, she had only one bib, resulting in her disqualification. This was a huge blow as she was looking forward to kicking off her campaign on a high note following her outstanding performance at the last edition of the games in Botswana in December 2018. In Botswana, she won gold in the 3 000m race and bronze in the 1500m event.
Prior to that at the 2016 games in Angola, the 2017 Lesotho Annual Sports Awards Junior Female Sportsperson of year had won gold medals in the 1500 and 3000m events. She however, returned to the track yesterday but failed to defend her 3000m title after settling for a disappointing fifth place in the competition. She fared better in the 1500m event where she claimed silver after finishing second.
She gained further consolation for her Friday heartbreak as she was part of the team that won a silver medal in the ladies’ medley relay. Coach Mahanetsa said the team officials should take full responsibility for Tsibela’s “painful and demotivating experience” on Friday.
“We can’t really now be sure of what happened because yesterday (Thursday) we helped all the athletes to clip their bibs to their vests,” Mahanetsa said. “I don’t know how one of Tsibela’s bibs was removed from her running vest. By the time it was discovered that the bib was missing, it was already too late to do anything even though we had searched and finally located the bib in one of our athletes’ bags.
“We should however, take the blame because it is our responsibility to ensure that athletes meet the race requirement including wearing the bibs before they go to the call room ahead of their races. “This is very sad and it is demotivating especially for young athletes,” Mahanetsa said. Had she not been disqualified, Tsibela would have bagged the gold medal in that race, he said. Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) president, Tšeliso Pheta, concurred, saying team officials had to shoulder the blame for Tsibela’s heartbreak.