LONG distance runner, Tšepo Mathibelle, is over the moon after winning his first major marathon- the Soweto Marathon which came with a M200 000 winner’s purse.
Fellow countrymen, Teboho Sello, Lebenka Nkoka and Sootho Raletebele finished in the top 10 of the prestigious race while Ntebaleng Letšela finished fifth in the female category.
Nomakoe Nkhasi winning the 10km race in the male category.
Speaking with the Lesotho Times upon his return to Lesotho on Tuesday, the 26-year old Mathibelle said his success came as result of the hard work he put in after finishing second in 2016.
“I am very happy to have won the race because last year I narrowly missed out,” Mathibelle said, adding, “This was because I was not familiar with the course and did know when I needed to slow down in order to last the whole race”.
“But it was different this time around because I knew what to expect and I enjoyed it from the word go.”
The Lesotho long distance runner said he had to dig deeper to beat Ethiopian, Sintayehu Legese Yineso, who won the race the previous year.
“I finished second at the Durban City Marathon, won in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape as well as in Canada.
“I am proud that I got it right this time around.
“It was tough and I had to put an extra effort to win.”
Mathibelle also spoke about the confusion that saw him being announced as a South African by that country’s media.
“This is something that happens a lot to runners from Lesotho which is a mistake made by organisers of the race.
“It has happened to the likes of Mamoroallo Tjoka and Mabuthile Lebopo and I think it is because organisers do not give full information to broadcasters who make these mistakes.”
He said it was his dream to do well for the country by winning competitions like Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
Mathibelle also pleaded with the government to support athletes saying this would ensure good results.
“My dream is to win a big races like Commonwealth, Olympic Games or World Championships.
“I get a lot of invitations to compete abroad. Next is the Commonwealth Games in April next year, but there is no word as to what is going to happen and I already have an invitation for a marathon in South Korea around the same time.
“I am waiting for the authorities to communicate about the Commonwealth games so that I take part or ignore the South Korea Marathon.
“These international races come with appearance fee which can be used for preparations so I hope the authorities will see the need to communicate on time,” he said.