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Olympic light still shines for Lesotho boxers


Chris Theko

Lesotho National Boxing team coach Hopolang Mabele has said despite the cancelling of the final qualifiers there is still hope for Lesotho Boxers to qualify for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) last week announced that the qualifiers- initially scheduled for May 2020 in Paris, but later postponed to June this year-have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 induced travel restrictions. 

The task force has made a decision that the 53 quota places of 32 men and 21 women that were up for grabs be allocated equally cross continents on the basis of world rankings for boxers who were yet to qualify for the Olympics. 

Because most of the lowly ranked Lesotho Boxers failed to qualify for the Olympics last year at the continental competitions, the world qualifies were going to give them a much-needed lifeline to redeem themselves. 

Although he admits that the qualifiers being cancelled was a huge blow for Lesotho boxers with low world rankings, Mabele is adamant that there is still hope for his boxers to make the cut for the Olympics considering that most high-ranking boxers have already qualified. 

“We are not sure how it will work or who will qualify as we are still waiting for reports from the international association on how exactly the new method of allocations will work,” Mabele said. 

“My boxers could not attend some of the highly-rated tournaments and that hampered our chances of improving our rankings but we are positive.

“It is clear that the boxers who have qualified from the continent will not be considered for those positions up for grabs” he said hopeful.

Lesotho is preparing Tlholohelo Mokhesi, Moroke Mokhotho, Qhobosheane Mohlerepe, Mokhachane Moshoeshoe and Arena Pakela for the Olympics. 

Mabele mentioned that Pakela who is his best boxer in the 75 kg category is ranked 17th globally and fourth on the continent hence his chances of qualification are higher. 

He said although Covid-19 regulations made it tough for him to keep working with his boxers, the cancellation comes at a time when he was already hard at work preparing them for the qualifiers. 

“Our hope was to go all out to challenge for qualification with all the five boxers despite the limiting challenges of the regulations, we were working remotely and we had already submitted our budget to the Lesotho National Olympic Committee,” he said. 

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