Marathon queen ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka (pictured) has withdrawn from the team to represent Lesotho at the 2014 Commonwealth Games scheduled for Glasgow, Scotland, from July 23 to August 3.
Tjoka — Lesotho’s major medal-hopeful at the games alongside sprinter Mosito Lehata — had been part of the country’s 30-member team of cyclists, athletes, table tennis and squash players, boxers, and swimmers.
But according to the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) secretary-general, Morake Raleaka, the iconic marathoner would no longer be travelling to Glasgow.
“We received a letter from the athletics association last week informing us about the withdrawal, but we are yet to meet with Tjoka about this development. But the withdrawal letter stated that she has a marathon to run in South Africa before the Commonwealth Games and had asked to be excluded from the team because she feared she might not be at her best due to fatigue,” Raleaka said.
However, Raleaka said the letter was only written after the LNOC had informed all associations to ensure they chose the right athletes for the quadrennial games.
“We alerted all associations, weeks before we received the letter, that we cannot invest in athletes who always produce below-par performances whenever they are on national duty.”
Raleaka further said the LNOC would only decide on the course of action to take after meeting Tjoka and the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association officials.
“Pulling out of the national team is a very serious matter; one cannot just do it to suit his or her personal interests. Athletes also get per-diems when they are on national duty so it cannot be an issue of money, but surely, after meeting with her, we will have the full details why she asked to be excused,” Raleaka said.
Meanwhile, the LAAA public relations officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, said Tjoka did not snub national duty, as the Games team announced by the association was not final but just provisional.
“It’s not like she pulled out; this team was still provisional and there was still no guarantee that she would make the final squad.
“She simply asked to be excused due to her tight schedule as she is going to run the Two Oceans Marathon (whose winner gets M100 000) in South
Africa next month and cannot run two long-distance races within that short space of time,” Maphathe said.
When the Sunday Express tried to reach Tjoka to get her side of the story over the past three days, her phone was not being answered.