Mathibellle fine-tunes for Rio

Mathibellle fine-tunes for Rio

Luciah Phahla

Maseru

Lesotho marathon runner Tšepo Mathibelle continued his preparations for the Olympic Games by running a personal best time of 2:15:39 hours at the Daegu International Marathon in Korea last Sunday.

Mathibelle finished seventh in the race.

Mathibelle qualified for the Rio 2016 marathon last year at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships where he finished in 14th position.

Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) public relations officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, praised Mathibelle saying the runner’s journey in athletics has been a humbling one.

Mathibelle qualified for the Olympics for the first time in 2012 and was the last to reach the finish line in London. Maphathe said after his 2012 Olympics performance the 24-year-old’s capabilities were questioned.

He said Mathibelle began to realise his potential in 2014 at the Durban City Marathon where he qualified for the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.

“Mathibelle started running the marathons way back in 2012 at the Gaborone City Marathon in Botswana and he qualified for the Olympics. At the Olympics he was the last to reach the finish line and people thought lowly of him,” Maphathe said yesterday.

Maphathe said the LAAA is happy the athlete reached this milestone. He said the association sent Mathibelle to Korea to improve his time.

“That was his (Mathibelle) personal best and he fully booked his spot at the Rio Olympics, we are indeed happy,” he said.

He continued that Mathibelle has been invited to compete in a half marathon race in China on April 19.

“We have received an invitation to a half marathon in China, but we have not yet decided (whether to accept the invite). We are letting him rest. Maybe next week we will decide. Races like this one are good because he is competing against the best athletes,” Maphathe said.

Maphathe said the LAAA would have liked to send ten athletes to Rio but at the moment it only has three – Mathibelle, fellow marathon runner Lebenya Nkoka and sprinter Mosito Lehata.

He said there are seven other athletes who can still qualify for the Olympics.

However, due to financial difficulties, the LAAA does not have a preparation programme planned and Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) says it will only help those who have qualified, Maphathe said.

“Our preparations for the Olympics have been hampered by a lack of finances. We would have liked to send ten athletes but the LNOC does not have any preparation planned. They say they can only help those who have qualified.

“The other seven, however, can still qualify at the Durban City Marathon (May 8) and there is still another race coming in Botswana afterwards as well,” he said.

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