THE 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are just a week away and Lesotho will be represented by 20 athletes at this multi-sporting event from 4 to 15 April.
Athletes from the Mountain Kingdom will participate in athletics, boxing, weightlifting and cycling.
The team that was announced by the Deputy Minister of Sport a fortnight ago includes big names such as Mosito Lehata (sprinter) and Lerato Sechele (triple jump).
Thabo Molefe, Moroke Mokhotho, Qhobosheane Mohlerepe, Mokhachane Moshoeshoe and Kokole Paneng are the traveling male boxers while Mantoa Ranone is the only female in the discipline.
Female runners Lineo Chaka, ‘Neheng Khatala, Tsepang Sello and Mokulubete Makatisi will participate alongside Tsepo Mathibelle, Toka Badboy, and Ramolefi Motsieloa in the male races.
Three male cyclists Phetetso Monese, Tumelo Makae and Malefetsane Lesofe will also travel alongside the only female, Likeleli Masitise, in the elite category.
Bafokeng Moeti will compete in weightlifting.
At some point the preparations looked bright and we were almost hopeful that this time around participants would bring medals.
The country came close to winning a medal in the last edition when Lehata narrowly lost in the 200 metre finals.
But the controversies that have dogged Lesotho Sports for a long time always have a way of coming back as some athletes have pulled out while others have failed to access funding for their preparations.
First, it was the duo of marathoners, Lebenya Nkoka and Motlokoa Nkhabutlane who pulled out of the provisional athletics team followed by middle distance runner, Namakwe Nkhasi.
Nkhabutlane is the current national record holder in marathon and Nkoka has also been one of the best recently in the country.
Nkhasi, on the other hand, won the Old Mutual 10 kilometre race in South Africa to prove his worth and the fact that the trio has failed to make it onto the final team for the Commonwealth Games is worrying.
Both, the Lesotho Amateur Association (LAAA) and the Lesotho Commonwealth Games Association, failed to meet the athlete’s demands and they were left with no other choice but to pull out of the team.
The trio’s withdrawal from the team saw the likes of Motsieloa being moved to track and field events like the 5000 and 10 000 metre races.
Motsieloa has also complained in the local media that the sudden change of plans has disrupted his training programme as he was preparing for the 42.2 kilometre marathon.
To make matters worse, marathon runner, Khatala, has been forced to travel for the competitions while she is still nursing an injury.
Reports say she has tried several times to raise her issue but no one seems to care.
In addition to all this fiasco, Sechele was also left with egg in the face last week when her trip to Pretoria for the Athletics South African Championship was called off at the eleventh hour.
It is still not clear why this happened but this was supposed to be her last competition before the games in Australia.
Lehata has also conceded that he has struggled to settle in South Africa where he is being coached by renowned trainer Ans Botha.
Athletes need to be in the right state of mind to do well and sudden changes as have been witnessed are unsetting.
It seems the organisers are using the same old script that we have seen yield disaster in the past as participants just add numbers with no value.
Unfortunately, it is the players who bear the humiliation when it is the administrators who have bungled.
The boxing team has also lamented the poor preparations after their requested camp was not granted due to “lack of resources”.
It is more important for boxers to be closer to their coaches in camp than other athletes since there are key specifics like weight and diet that have to be strictly monitored since they have a bearing on the performance.
But the boxers still come from their houses daily and their diet is not monitored.
Of course, I am aware that these trips are bankrolled by the government, but this has been going on for far too long and the Lesotho Commonwealth Games Association (LCGA) must have by now found a solution.
Surely, if there is no money, they may just as well pull out of the games so that they participate when the government has the money they can participate seriously.
Athletes are ridiculed soon after such events that are preceded by dismal preparations and it is never the administrations that are at the end of the barrel.
The LCGA needs to address this issue. We have had enough of these excuses each time athletes prepare for international stages. We cannot expect anything meaningful from them after sloppy preparations.
Before I bow out, I think it will not be fair to give all the praises to Africa Dream team manager Mark West who has been working very hard to see that he gets his cycling team ready for these games.
By far, the cycling team is the most organised in this group and they have been in and out of the country attending different competitions.
This gentleman has been up on his feet to ensure that all his four cyclists get the needed exposure before the quadrennial games and he has played a huge part to improve the sport locally.