SPRINT starlet ‘Mamakoli Senauoane (18) will be the only Lesotho athlete competing at the Under-20 World Athletics Championships in Kenya from 17 to 22 August this year.
The event will now be held next month after it was postponed last year on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Senauoane will compete in the event despite failing to qualify. She was only granted an opportunity to compete courtesy of Lesotho’s one spot quota for unqualified but promising athletes. The Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) therefore resolved to register her since she is the current 400m national record holder in the females’ category with a time of 54 seconds.
FAL secretary general Makara Thibinyane confirmed to this publication that Senauoane would be the only athlete at the games and that she has already started preparing for the event.
“Only Senauoane is going for the under-20 World Championships because she is currently our female 400m national record holder,” Thibinyane said.
“She didn’t qualify for the games but we registered her to fill the only slot we had for athletes who didn’t qualify for the games.”
Meanwhile, male sprinter Mojela Koneshe, who qualified for the games is now ineligible because he is now 20.
Thibinyane said initially, the event organisers had advised them that athletes who were eligible for the competition last year would be allowed to participate after the postponement. However, the provision was changed last week and Koneshe has now been ruled out.
“Koneshe is no longer going for the games because of his age. All along we were hoping that he would be eligible even after the postponement but the organisers have since changed the rules.
“We have spoken to him and he is aware of the changes and he has accepted it.”
Senauoane is working with coach Khauta Makhoana who is helping her prepare.
“We have already started preparations and so far, I am happy with her progress. We don’t have any injury concerns and that means we have nothing to worry about,” Makhoana said.
Makhoana said their target at championships is to see Senauoane improving her time by clocking at least 52 seconds
“Our target is to improve her time from 54 to 52 seconds. If she can make that time, it will be easy for her to qualify for major events in future. We have enough time to prepare. She has been competing in several races in South Africa recently in her bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and I think that will help her in the under-20 championships,” Makhoana said.