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Athletes decry lack of preparation ahead of the commonwealth games


Chris Theko

Commonwealth Games debutant for team Lesotho, Mojela Koneshe has spoken out about why he refused to compete in the 200m during the recently concluded Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Koneshe was scheduled to run both the 100m and 200m races at the games. He however only ran in the 100m where he failed to progress to the semi-finals having finished fourth in round 1 of heat two, clocking 10.46.

Despite stating his disappointment at not making it to the semi-finals, he stated that he was surprised to be told that he was to get ready for the 200m race for which he did not prepare.

“I was not aware that I was expected to run the 200m race hence my surprise when I was asked about it. I had no idea I was going to run it, especially when I did not even train for it,” Koneshe said.

The athlete boldly stated that it was never communicated to him that he was to run in the 200m track despite having known last year that he was to represent Lesotho in the Commonwealth Games.

The 100m specialist who was making his debut at the Commonwealth Games said the two races are completely different disciplines hence he could not have run without proper preparation.

“The two races are totally different for anyone to just run without prior preparation, which takes at least months, maybe even a year to be competitive in,” Koneshe said.

“I am not good with 200m. My field is 100m so, I believe there must have been a misunderstanding before departure from Maseru that I was going to run both races. I can’t just run 200m without preparing for it,” he added.

Responding to the revelations, Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) Secretary General, Makara Thibinyane, indicated that Koneshe knew last year that he was to represent the country in both disciplines at the Commonwealth, thus he is surprised to hear that he claims he was not aware.

“Mojela was informed last year that he would be going to represent the country at the commonwealth games and was told which races he would be participating in so that he prepares. It is surprising that he refused to run the 200m despite having known since last year about it,” Thibinyane said.

“As for preparations, we can proudly say as the association we did all in its power to assist the athletes to get ready for the games,” he added.

However, another athlete who spoke to Newsday Sports from Birmingham following her race, ‘Mathakane Letsie, said she did not get enough time to prepare having only returned from a Two Oceans Marathon where she competed in a 56km marathon.

“I was not well prepared for the track. I had to choose between the 10,000m and the 42km. I chose to run the 10,000 because I had recently come back from competing at the Two Oceans Marathon and could not handle another marathon,” Letsie said.

The athlete, who is not new to the Commonwealth Games having competed in a marathon at the Glasgow Games in 2014, stated that such games require adequate training and preparation time which is what they did not have.

She however said what she achieved was beyond what she had expected.

“I did not get enough time to prepare but I’m still happy to have achieved a personal best which is beyond what I had expected given that I don’t normally compete in short races,” she said.

Thibinyane still insisted that the federation did all that was possible to prepare the athletes for the games by taking them to competitions outside the country and getting them scholarships.

“When they say it was not enough we don’t understand what they wanted us to do more than what we had already done. Again those people are elite athletes they know what needs to be done,” Thibinyane said.

He also highlighted that they are not impressed with the performance shown by the majority of the track and field athletes who have been to the games before but delivered below-par results.

Team Lesotho has struggled to come to the party in scooping medals at the recently concluded 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games in England.

The Mountain Kingdom took to the track and field with 21 athletes, six females and 15 males with athletes competing in athletics, para-athletics, boxing, cycling, and weightlifting with a quest to win medals at the games but it was not to be.

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