Mathibelle in Kenya camp

Mathibelle in Kenya camp

Luciah Phahla

Maseru

Lesotho marathon hopeful Tšepo Mathibelle is in Kenya as he finalises preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games scheduled for August in Brazil.

Mathibelle left the country two weeks ago and is expected to remain in camp until July 31.

Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) public relations officer Sejanamane Maphathe said Mathibelle will also take part in local races in Kenya as he fine-tunes ahead of Rio.

“This is the second week now (that Mathibelle is in Kenya) and he will be there in camp until July 31st. This is part of his preparation for the Olympics. He will run local marathons in Kenya, last week he participated in the local 10 kilometre race,” he told thepost yesterday.

Mathibelle’s trip to Kenya comes as a result of a sponsorship from South Korean multinational Samsung which is covering all expenses during the athlete’s preparations and will also cover his costs at the Olympics.

Maphathe said the roots of Samsung’s sponsorship of Mathibelle started at the 2012 London Olympics where Mathibelle was the last to reach the finish line in the marathon race. Maphathe said the 24-year-old’s persistence and determination touched a lot of people including Samsung.

When Mathibelle qualified for last year’s the IAAF World Championships in Beijing and finished in 14th position, Samsung increased their interest in the runner.

In March, Mathibelle recorded a best personal time of 2:15:39 hours at the Daegu International Marathon in Korea, finishing seventh, and his performance clinched support from Samsung.

“In 2012 in London, Tšepo was the last to reach the finish line. He then went to the World Championship in China and then Samsung took him together with other athletes from different countries to Korea. He ran his best personal time and he got the sponsorship. They will be covering him with everything, starting with his preparations for the Olympics,” he revealed.

Maphathe said it is an achievement for the LAAA to have an athlete training alongside the world’s best.

Kenya is widely recognised as the world’s premier location for marathon training and the country has a rich tradition of producing elite long distance athletes.

A number of the main contenders at Rio 2016 are using Kenya as a training base.

“When you work with the best it is easy for you to take the good from them; and, to be able to work with the best athletes is also motivation for (Mathibelle),” Maphathe said.

“It will give him self-belief that he can do well and it will increase his confidence.”

Maphathe said he is expecting a strong Mathibelle in Rio.

“There are three medals in the marathons: gold, silver and bronze. Anything is possible in marathons and, without putting him under pressure, I really hope he brings home either of those medals,” he stated.

 

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