|Motlokoa Nkhabutlane (right) with Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie|
after winning 2015 Two Oceans Marathon...
Lesotho marathon record holder Motlokoa Nkhabutlane will not compete at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April dealing a major blow to the country’s hopes at the championships.
Last March, Nkhabutlane clocked a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 47 seconds (2:09:47) to finish ninth at the Paris Marathon. The time broke the previous national record of 2:10:55 set by Lesotho marathon legend Thabiso Moqhali at the 1992 London Marathon.
It was hoped Nkhabutlane could emulate Moqhali who won marathon gold at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
Moqhali’s gold remains Lesotho’s only title at a major international Games.
Nkhabutlane, who won the 2015 Two Oceans Old Mutual Marathon crown, was set to be one of 22 athletes in Team Lesotho for the Commonwealth Games which run from April 4 to 15. However, the 33 year-old said he will instead focus on competing in the Milan Marathon in Italy (on April 8) or the London Marathon in England (on April 22).
“I was left with no choice but to pull out because as much as I have to represent the country I also have to fend for my family,” Nkhabutlane said in a media interview.
“I can only fend for them by running and unfortunately we are not getting much for representing the country as we only get the per diem. We still don’t know how much we are going to get.”
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held at the Carrara Stadium in Queensland, Australia. Lesotho will compete in five sporting codes – athletics, boxing, cycling, table tennis and weightlifting.
“The worst part is we are not even getting any support to train for these games and I have to use my own money and resources which will cost me a lot of money,” Nkhabutlane said.
“I normally start preparing at least four months earlier for major races and I have to spend M2000 on a weekly basis for my physios and food when training for big races.”
Nkhabutlane, who now runs for Pietermaritzburg running club Save Orion in South Africa, said athletes in Lesotho need to be taken more seriously.
“It is time that people understood that athletics is work for us and it should be treated as such. I don’t have a problem representing the country if given the support,” he said.
“I am certain that I can win medals but unfortunately (Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association) is not willing to meet my demands. We need to be helped. I don’t want to just go there (to the Commonwealth Games) and just run for the sake of it and ruin my reputation.”