By Moorosi Tsiane
MASERU — The queen of marathons ’Mamoroallo Tjoka and fellow countryman Masilo Matjeane failed to defend their High Altitude Summer Marathon titles in Mokhotlong on Saturday.
Tjoka, who came into last weekend’s marathon as a two-time defending champion, finished second to Ethiopia’s Assefa Chelefu while Matjeane finished fourth in the men’s race.
This annual race was sponsored by the sports ministry and mining giant, Letšeng Diamonds to the total tune of M1 850 000.
The marathon, which was won by the county’s veteran runner Mabuthile Lebopo in the men’s category, was dominated by Basotho athletes with at least seven making it to the top 10 bracket.
Teboho Sello, Maluke Mamphane, Lehlohonolo Raletebele and Realeboha Lenanya finished in positions six, seven, nine and 10 respectively in the men’s contest.
For his efforts, Lebopo went home M100 000 richer with fellow countryman Lebenya Nkoka pocketing M60 000 for finishing second and Ethiopia’s Yoota Leyese won M30 000 for snatching third spot in the men’s category.
In the women’s category, Tjoka came in between Ethiopians Chelefu and Bion Ababu to secure second position as the only Mosotho female to make the top 10.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times, Tjoka’s coach, Kenneth Hlahla, said he was satisfied with Tjoka’s performance considering that she had suffered multiple injuries in the build-up to the race.
“She did well I can say. She suffered injuries prior to the race and position two is not that bad,” Hlahla said.
Meanwhile, marathon technical officer, Kokolia Mokonyane, said the race went as planned adding that the annual race is fast-gaining popularity as it attracted international participants.
“The fact that this year’s edition attracted a lot of international athletes shows that the marathon is gaining popularity,” Mokonyane said.
He also commended the business community for the support.