Top Lesotho woman marathoner, ‘Neheng Khatala-Seutloali has withdrawn from this year’s Commonwealth Games set for Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8 2022.
Khatala-Seutloali said her decision was prompted by realization that she has to increase her speed in order to be sure to put in an impressive show when she goes into competitive marathons especially at big a stage as the Commonwealth Games.
“I have changed my plans for the Commonwealth games program because I still have to run short distances to increase my speed,” she told Newsday Sport this week.
She said she was prepared and ready for action following her participation in the South African Absa Run your City 10 Km race held in Durban recently.
News of her withdrawal from the longer distance section had been received with a lot of mixed feelings with others suspecting injury while for the most there was confusion on whether she would not be participating in the games at all.
However, according to the Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) Secretary-General Makara Thibinyane, Khatala-Seutloali is still part of Team Lesotho, adding that all she has done was change to a shorter distance race.
“Khatala is still part of team Lesotho for the Commonwealth games, the only thing is that she has changed from the marathon to the women’s 10 000m race which is a lot shorter,” Thibinyane said.
Khatala is under the Olympic Solidarity Sponsorship by the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) which is intended for her preparations for the 2024 Olympic Games.
The LNOC Public Relations Officer Fetang Selialia who is also the team’s Head of Mission confirmed to this publication that the LNOC had received the letter and that they have accepted the withdrawal request from the marathoner.
Meanwhile, the LNOC has released the 34-man delegation team Lesotho for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. The delegation is made up of athletes, medical staff, coaches, management, and the media.
The team comprises 21 athletes made of six females and 15 males. The mission also has such delegates as ‘Makutloano Kheola as 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 Khatala-Seutloali, triple jumper, Lerato Sechele, experienced marathoners, Lebenya Nkoka, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane, Tšepo Mathibelle, Mokulubete Makatisi, Tebello Ramakongoana, ‘Mathakane Letsie, ‘Manqabang Tsibela as well as sprinter Mojela Koneshe (100m and 200m) with Khauta Makhoana and Andreas Telang as coaches.
In weightlifting, Lesotho will be represented by Thapelo Sebota (61kg) whose coach is Relebohile Motjamela, while legendary Olympian Moroke Mokhotho will make his last appearance at the Commonwealth Games in the boxing category following his announcement to hang his gloves. He will also be joined by Qhobosheane Mohlerepe (63kg), Retšelisitsoe Kolobe (51kg), Phomolo Lengola (54kg) and Arena Pakela (71kg) with Hopolang Mabele and Meshark Letsoepa as coaches.
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.