Tuesday, December 5, 2023
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Big blow for cycling

Business

Seabata Mahao

Lesotho will be represented by only one cyclist at the Confederation of African Cycling Championships due to financial constraints.

This after the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) chief executive officer, Morake Raleaka told Newsday Sports they had cut the number of athletes going to the continental showpiece at the last minute due to crippling financial challenges.

Female cyclist, TÅ¡episo Lerata, had qualified for competition to be held in Ghana from February 8-13.

Lerata qualified after winning the Federation of Cycling Lesotho’s (FCL) National Road Championship tournament, which took place on January 21 and 28.

She won the 71.2 kilometre marathon for females under 23 years by clocking in at 3:10:21 hours, with the hope of becoming the second cyclist to qualify for the African showpiece.

Kabelo Makatile is the only cyclist who will travel to Ghana along with a coach to represent Lesotho in the tournament, as the LNOC can only afford to send a two-man team to the games.

“This was not an easy decision but it had to be made especially now that the Confederation of Cycling Championships in Ghana are about to start, so we have failed to get the funds,” Raleaka said.

He said they have been struggling with funding for some time and had to compromise to go with a two-man delegation to Ghana.

“It has been over two years now without the funds from the government of Lesotho, so we have been surviving on donations and other means hence we are unable to take our athletes to international competitions,” Raleaka added.

The issue of diminished government funding to sports is becoming common lately, and could negatively affect sports development if left unattended.

Earlier this week, Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) said in a statement that the government does not have the funds needed to refurbish the Setsoto Stadium in order to be allowed to host official international matches by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The stadium is currently banned by CAF.

As a result, the national football team, Likuena will continue to play its home matches in the neighbouring South Africa.

“In their letter of January 26, 2023, the LSRC have indicated that the government of Lesotho does not have money to refurbish and improve the status of Setsoto Stadium as required by CAF.

“In the light of the above, the football fraternity and football lovers are hereby reminded that the national team, Likuena, will be forced to continue playing all its home games in a foreign land in South Africa,” LeFA said.

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