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Lesotho’s chess elite secure Budapest 2024 slots


Seabata Mahao

Four of Lesotho’s finest chess players have clinched coveted spots at the 45th Chess Olympiad Games set to unfold in Budapest, Hungary this September.

Lieketseng Ngatane, Sechaba Khalema, Motlomelo Lihloela, and Sethabathaba Boitumelo emerged victorious earlier this week, showcasing their prowess in the intense 2024 Round Robin tournament.

This week-long showdown, which featured 20 top chess players, unfolded at the Lancers Inn in Maseru.

Originally slated to conclude on May 1st, the tournament encountered a slight delay, with the final results eagerly anticipated over the weekend.

The Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) anticipates fielding a contingent of 10 players at the Budapest event.

In an exclusive interview with Newsday, Public Relations Officer (PRO) Selatela Khiba elucidated on the selection process, affirming that the top performers would secure their spots in the Budapest lineup.

Khiba remarked on the competitive intensity of the tournament, observing a fervent determination among participants to uphold national pride through their performance.

“The level of competition was remarkable, underscoring the growing prominence of chess within our nation,” he said. “The enthusiasm displayed by players reflects a positive trend towards the advancement of chess in Lesotho.”

Khiba also highlighted the potential inclusion of fresh faces in the Budapest lineup, noting that even the four players selected earlier may be making their debut appearance in this prestigious competition.

“Bringing in fresh talent each time underscores the fierce competition prevalent in our nation. Every player is eager for exposure and growth, reflecting significant strides in our chess community,” he said.

He emphasised that despite the less-than-ideal performance in India last year, CFL remained optimistic about this year’s prospects.

He explained that they believed this year would yield better results, given the early selection of players and ample time for preparation.

“To further enhance their skills, we plan to provide support by engaging an international coach during their training period. We are fully committed to ensuring a successful outcome this year,” Khiba affirmed.

“We will do whatever in our effort to help us come back with good results this year,” he added.
Khiba appealed to companies and organizations to extend their support, emphasising the need for sufficient funds to cover all expenses related to the tournament.

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