MASERU — The year of Africa’s first Fifa World Cup has also seen a momentous 12 months for the Mountain Kingdom.
From the disbanding of the national team, Likuena, in February to New Zealander Chris Birch winning another successful Roof of Africa last month, Lesotho has seen plenty of sporting headlines in 2010.
This year Lioli continued their trendsetting ways by becoming the first local club to introduce player contracts while sprinter Mosito Lehata impressively reached the 200 metres finals at the Commonwealth Games.
With 2011 looming, the Sunday Express selects the good, the bad and the ugly from this sporting year.
Makoanyane XI’s qualification for next year’s Caf African Youth Championship was arguably the story of the year, not only because it was completely unexpected but because of it’s eventual ease as well.
While Lesotho was reeling from the disbanding of Likuena, Makoanyane XI embarked on a special qualifying campaign which included a memorable swatting aside of South Africa in August.
The reward for Leslie Notši’s boys was a place amongst the continent’s finest — world and African champions Ghana, giants Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Mali, Gambia and hosts Libya — at the continental showpiece which starts on March 18 and climaxes on April 1.
In July, high jumper Selloane Tšoaeli became the first athlete from Lesotho to win a gold medal at the African Senior Championships.
Tšoaeli, who jumped a national record 1.75 metres to grab the gold, also won bronze in the heptathlon at the championships in Kenya to cap possibly the finest individual performance by a Lesotho athlete at an international competition.
Tšoaeli would go on to break her high jump record on two further occasions. Her national mark now stands at 1.78 metres.
Marathon queen ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka made it a record five Soweto Marathon wins in November and officially earned herself the tag “Queen of Soweto”.
A month later the marathon buster added the Letšeng Diamonds High Altitude Marathon in Mokhotlong to her glittering collection.
Meanwhile, in April Mabuthile Lebopo won the prestigious Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town to cement his place as one of the finest sportsmen Lesotho has ever produced.
The childish and unnecessary row between Matlama and Vodacom Lesotho over gate-takings during the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular in October encapsulated the problems of administration that continue to haunt and put Lesotho football in a bad light.
In general the tournament was a mess exemplified by a third-place play-off match that was played a full three days after the final.
The chaos overshadowed Likhopo’s deserved M360 000 win and led to a frank assessment of the Lesotho Football Association by it’s new chief executive officer Mofihli Makoele.
“In every organisation there are rules and policies that are followed,” Makoele, who was hired in September, said in the aftermath.
“Unfortunately some people did not necessarily abide by them.”
“We didn’t pass the information as we were supposed to, and we didn’t do what we were told to do,” he admitted.
“There is no discipline and professionalism is lacking.”
The Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) always seems to be in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
In November the LAAA refused to issue permits to local runners for the Soweto Marathon, demanding they should first produce personal contracts with their sponsors.
The athletes were only able to race following the intervention of Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission chief executive officer Kholoang Mokalanyane.
Earlier, in November, LAAA spokesperson Sejanamane Maphathe had said Sechaba Bohosi and Tiisetso Ramokheseng would be punished for “deliberately humiliating the country” after the pair failed to finish the men’s Commonwealth Games marathon citing sickness.
“The two will be punished because, according to our analysis, they were just giving us excuses,” Mapathe charged.
Lesotho’s performance at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in October was horrible to say the least.
Overall, Team Lesotho made no impact on the championships in Delhi, India, and came back home tails firmly between legs.
The embarrassment was embodied in the Games’ last track event, the women’s marathon, where two Lesotho runners finished last in the race, a full hour behind the winner.
While Kenyan winner Irene Jerotich Kosgei, who won the 42 kilometre race in two hours, 34 minutes and 32 seconds, was conducting post-race interviews Lesotho athletes Lineo Lebotha (3:24.33 hours) and Refiloe Khechane (3:24.35 hours) were only wandering over the finish line fighting.
In tennis, swimming and boxing, Lesotho failed to negotiate past the first round.
For boxing the performance in India demonstrated serious problems within the sport.
There are still two factions fighting over the leadership of boxing in the country and in October the Lesotho Amateur Boxing Association was not invited to the International Amateur Boxing Association’s congress in Kazakhstan because of the on-going turmoil.
It perhaps wasn’t a surprise then when Neo Thamahane, Thabiso Nketu, Tšepo Lepoqo, Mokhachane Moshoeshoe, Kokole Paneng and Lungile Dyamdeki were all pummelled into submission in the first round at the Commonwealth Games.