Mathibelle shines in Soweto

Mathibelle shines in Soweto

MASERU – 2017 Soweto Marathon winner and Lesotho Olympian Tšepo Mathibelle (pictured)has poured his heart out and called for government and the private sector to support athletes. Mathibelle won the annual 42km marathon for the first time on Sunday in a time of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 41 second (2:19:14) and walked away with the jackpot of M220 000 cash.

It was not the first time Mathibelle has excelled at the race. Last year he finished second.
And, after beating a quality field over the weekend, Mathibelle said Basotho are as talented as the Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes who dominate distance running. He said Basotho runners just need support in order to reach their potential.

He continued that he is very proud to have represented the country well and credited his preparation programme for his success.
In September, Mathibelle ran in Beijing and said he kept the same programme for the Soweto Marathon which proved vital to his victory.
“Last year I finished second, I did not know the route and what to anticipate, because when you run in places like Durban, you know there are bad places during the race just like in Mokhotlong. However, this year I came back strong and I knew the course,” he said.

Mathibelle dismissed the notion that local athletes do well in South African races but fail at the international stage.
He said Lesotho athletes don’t fail internationally because they can’t compete with their counterparts but because of lack of preparation.
Just to prepare for the Soweto marathon, Mathibelle spent M15 000 on his preparations. The money came from his pocket and he said with the right supplements and gym materials, local runners are also capable of bringing medals from overseas. He said the importance of going to the gym and preparing for big races helps athletes to get used to the routine.

“It is the quality of programme, the way you eat, the supplements and the gym. Let me tell you, South Africa has already selected a team that is going to the Commonwealth Games in Australia next year,” Mathibelle said.
“They have already started with their preparations. So you see we are going to meet people who had ample time to prepare, people who took months to prepare, and we are going to train for a month? Of course you will lose,” he continued.

“Look, we still beat these athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia here in South Africa, but when you go overseas the race there is fast and very competitive. You meet people who tell you even before the race that they came here for a medal, so if you are not prepared enough, you will only keep up with them for 30 kilometres and after that you done,” he said.
For Mathibelle the difference is the preparation.

“I remember in 2015 when I went to the World Championships, I went to the gym here at home but I had problem with the shoes I was using and the shoes that I needed cost over M3 500,” he said. “I led the race for about 30 km and they overtook me when I was about 2 km from the finish line. It was because I had a problem with my shoes, they had become hot and we were running on a tarred road. I failed to win because of that and finished in 14th position. If we can get the help we need to prepare for international events we can bring the medals. We want to represent our country, but we need support,” he said.

Mathibelle said he is still in the dark about his Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games participation. He revealed he received an invitation to go and run in South Korea next April but is yet to confirm as he is still waiting to see if he will go to the Commonwealth Games in March in Australia.
His last race this year will be on December 3 in Eastern Cape and although he qualified for the Comrades Marathon, Mathibelle said he will not be participating.

Mathibelle was not the only Lesotho runner to shine on Sunday; fellow Olympian Namakoe Nkhasi defended his 10 km title that he won last year in a time of 30:52. It was Nkhasi’s third consecutive victory in the race.
Meanwhile, Tebello Ramakongana finished third in the half marathon. In the women’s 42 km Ntebaleng Letsela finished fourth.
Teboho Sello, Lebenya Nkoka and Sootho Raletebele all finished amongst the top 10 in the main race won by Mathibelle.

Luciah Phahla

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