Team Lesotho that has been assembled to represent the country at this year’s edition of the Commonwealth Games staged in Birmingham, England will battle it out in five sporting codes.
The games that kicked-off yesterday are set to run until August 8, 2022.
Lesotho will be competing amongst 71 other Commonwealth countries, taking to the track and field with 21 athletes, six female and 15 male. The team is led by Head of Mission Fetang Selialia. ‘Makutloano Kheola is the General Manager while ‘Mathato Makhorole is the Team Administrator.
Lesotho is expected to compete in athletics, para-athletics, boxing, cycling, and weightlifting. The athletics team consists of ‘Neheng Khatala and triple jumper, Lerato Sechele.
Experienced marathoners, Lebenya Nkoka, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane, Tšepo Mathibelle, and Mokulubete Makatisi are also in the team along with Tebello Ramakongoana, ‘Mathakane Letsie, Manqabang Tsibela and sprinter Mojela Koneshe and the athletics coaches are Khauta Makhoana and Andreas Telang.
In weightlifting, Lesotho is represented by Thapelo Sebota (61kg) whose coach is Relebohile Motjamela.
In Boxing, Olympiad, Moroke Mokhotho will make his last appearance at the Commonwealth Games having announced his retirement plans earlier this year. Qhobosheane Mohlerepe (63kg), Retšelisitsoe Kolobe (51kg) Phomolo Lengola (54kg) and Arena Pakela (71kg) all make up the boxing team with Hopolang Mabele and Meshark Letsoepa.
Former boxer and Olympiad Sebusiso Keketsi said the team has potential to bring back medals due to its balance in experienced athletes and new faces.
“If you look at our team, it is made up of the experienced athletes mixed with the young talent that has shown their capabilities in the juniors. We have a team that can compete and in sports and anything can happen despite the challenges,” Keketsi said.
Keketsi who is the country’s highest qualified boxing coach cautioned on high expectations citing the team did not have adequate time to prepare for the games.
“Looking at the state and magnitude of the Commonwealth Games I would not want to be too high on expectations because there were challenges especially with our boxers, I don’t think they prepared well enough,” he said.
Top cyclist, Tumelo Makae and Phethetso Monese will represent in the Mountain Bike while Kabelo Makatile and Teboho Khantši will battle it out in the road competition.
The Mountain Kingdom looks to increase the number of medals collected in the Games since their first participation in 1974.
Though the country became a member of the Commonwealth in 1966, it made its debut in the Games eight years later when they were held in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since the debut Lesotho has taken part in every Game apart from the Brisbane in 1982.
The country’s first ever medal came during the Kuala Lumpur Games in Malaysia in 1998 courtesy of marathoner Thabiso Moqhali who scooped gold.
The second medal would be a shared bronze with England during the Manchester Games in England where boxer Ezekiel Letuka was the sole medalist for team Lesotho in 2002 whilst a silver medal was won by the legend Moses Kopo at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in the Light Welterweight 64 kg.
A lot is expected from the 21 representing the country at this year’s games with majority looking at Olympiad Khatala amongst others who has shown abilities to deliver at the world stages.
Majority of the athletes for team Lesotho have been to the Commonwealth Games in the past two editions including triple jump athlete Lerato Sechele who has previously featured in the contest.