May 3, 2024


3 min read

Khatala Olympic hopes dashed in Hamburg Marathon

Khatala Olympic hopes dashed in Hamburg Marathon

Top marathoner, 'Neheng Khatala

Story highlights

    She was not the only athlete from Lesotho who missed out on Olympic qualification
    Two other marathoners Miya Mxenecelwa and Puseletso Mofokeng, also failed to meet required times

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'NEHENG Khatala's aspirations to compete in the upcoming Paris Olympics were crushed when she narrowly missed the qualifying standard at last Sunday's Hamburg Marathon in Germany.

Khatala, aiming for her second consecutive Olympics after debuting at the 2021 Tokyo Games, finished 10th in the women's category.

She missed the qualifying mark of 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 50 seconds by a mere two minutes and 13 seconds, clocking in at 2:28:37.

"I am not happy with my performance, but there is nothing I can do now except accept that I did not qualify. There is always next time," Khatala told Public Eye on Wednesday.

She was not the only athlete from Lesotho who missed out on Olympic qualification that day.

Two other marathoners from the country, Miya Mxenecelwa and Puseletso Mofokeng, also failed to meet the required times.

Both competed at the Durban International Marathon in South Africa; Mxenecelwa finished 17th with a time of 2:17:42, while Mofokeng came in 19th at 2:18:37.

The qualifying standard they needed to meet was 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 10 seconds (2:08:10).

Prior to this, another Lesotho marathoner, Mokulubete Makatisi, was unable to qualify at the Vienna City Marathon in Austria two weeks earlier.

Makatisi finished ninth in the women's category with a time of 02:30:54.

Makara Thibinyane, the Secretary General of the Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL), confirmed that this race was the marathoners' final opportunity to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games.

“In this last month for marathon qualification, it is clear that the runners we hoped would qualify will now miss their chance,” he told Public Eye in an interview on Wednesday.

“Only our track and field athletes still have the opportunity to qualify. Their next chance is at the African Athletics Championships in Cameroon next month,” Thibinyane added.

The Paris Olympic Games are scheduled to take place from July 26 to August 11.

Thibinyane mentioned that track and field athletes would have the opportunity to qualify up until two weeks before the Olympics.

Tebello Ramakongoana remains the only marathoner from Lesotho to have qualified for the Paris Olympic Games, having secured his spot through his performance at the World Athletics Championships held in Budapest, Hungary, in August last year.

He became the first athlete from Lesotho to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games.

The second athlete to secure a spot at the Paris Games is the country's taekwondo star, Michelle Tau, who qualified through the African Qualification Tournament held in Dakar, Senegal, three months ago.

So far, Lesotho is set to be represented by these two athletes in Paris.

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This representation mirrors the Tokyo Olympic Games, where the Mountain Kingdom was represented by two athletes, one female and one male—similar to the current duo of Tau and Ramakongoana.

Previously, it was Khatala and her husband, Khoarahlane Seutloali, both marathon runners.

Both Tau and Ramakongoana will be making their first appearance at the Olympic Games, just like Khatala and Seutloali did at the Tokyo Olympics.

In the women's Olympic marathon, Khatala finished in 20th, place, while Seutloali came in 67th.

Since its Olympic debut in 1972, Lesotho has yet to win an Olympic medal.

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