Lesotho long distance runner Tebello Ramakongoana has qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games following his top five finish in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Ramakongoana, who is under the Lesotho National Olympics Committee (LNOC) athletics scholarship, clocked in at 2:09:57 hours to finish fourth in the marathon race.
The star athlete received a hero’s welcome upon arrival in the country on Wednesday last week.
Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC), Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) and Maseru City Run welcomed Ramakongoana with pomp and fanfare upon his landing at the Moshoeshoe I International airport.
Speaking on his successful Hungary performance, Ramakongoana said he could have done better had it not been for unfamiliar weather conditions in Budapest.
“My coach told me not to worry about the time but to target the top 10 bracket of the competition, and then top five which will take me to Paris 2024,” he said.
He said his Hungary performance has opened up many opportunities for him as he will be called for other global competitions.
“I will need more sponsorships in terms of gears and for my coach to be supported in everything we may need,” Ramakongoana said.
Thabo Tšoeute, one of the organisers of the annual Maseru City Run said they were impressed by the great performance by Ramakongoana in Budapest.
“We need to see more Basotho participating in the international athletics competitions especially the marathons. The new generation of Lesotho athletes shows real passion for what they are doing as we have seen their results.”
He said Maseru City Run is planning to host many local marothons to give athletes the necessary practice.
“Currently there is only one big marathon being the high altitude marathon, which we intend to add on.”
LSRC spokesperson, Nkoebe Makhalemele highlighted that they were proud of Ramakongoana’s exploits. He said they together with the LNOC and FAL were working hard in ensuring that athletes are always at their best.
“The fourth position came out as a result of heat and hot temperatures in Budapest but this did not hinder him from qualifying to the Paris 2024. Now we need to go prepare for the upcoming competitions along with their weather conditions,” Makhalemele stated.
Meanwhile, fellow Olympics scholarship holder Mokulubete Makatisi also competed in the women’s marathon in Budapest, where she obtained position 42.
She is currently in Durban, South Africa where she continues on her journey to qualify for the Olympic games.