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Seutloali deprived welfare grant

SIDELINED: Top marathoner Khoarahlane Seutloali

Aug. 20, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU – Top Lesotho marathoner and Olympic hopeful for Tokyo 2021, Khoarahlane Seutloali, has failed in his bid to secure welfare funding from the world athletics support bodies because his ranking is above the minimum standards that were set.

World Athletics (WA) and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) in June announced that 193 athletes from 58 member federations would be offered one-time grants worth US$3 000 through an Athlete Welfare Fund announced in April to help support professional athletes experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When the fund was first announced on April 28, it was worth US$500 000 but through athletes’ increasing demands it has now been increased to US$600 000.

The IAF received 261 eligible applications by the May 31 deadline. These applications were evaluated by the IAF to ensure that they met the eligibility criteria, under the guidance of an expert working group, chaired by the World Athletics President Sebastian Coe. 

To be eligible, athletes had to be qualified for selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by entry standard, had to be able to demonstrate justifiable welfare need through a significant loss of income in 2020 compared to 2019, and must never have had an anti-doping violation.

Athletes ranked in the top six on the World Rankings, those who finished in the top six in any Gold Label Road race in 2019, and those who earned more than US$6000 in prize money from the 2019 Diamond League were not eligible to apply, but Seutloali who finished fifth in Cape Town marathon in 2019 applied and was disapproved.

Members of the working group included Olympic champion and 1500-metre world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj, Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi representing the WA Athletes’ Commission, and the WA Executive Board member Sunil Sabharwal from the Audit, Risk & Finance Committee.

In an interview with Metro, Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) publicist Sejanamane Maphathe said the IAF working group disapproved of Seutloali’s application citing that he finished in top six in the Cape Town Gold Label Road race last year.

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He further said the working group overlooked the fact that even though Seutloali finished in the top six, he received far lower prize money compared to other Gold Label Road races winners internationally.

Maphathe however said Seutloali will benefit from the Tokyo Olympics scholarship which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) has opened for applications from athletes. He said the scholarship is meant for athletes who have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics adding that Seutloali is the only athlete from Lesotho who has so far qualified. He showed that the application closes on August 21 with the scholarship set to commence in September until August 2021. “Seutloali applied for this scholarship on Tuesday and the funding covers training, food, attire, and medical aid to support the athletes in their preparation for Tokyo Olympics next year,” he said. For his part, Seutloali confirmed that he had indeed applied for the scholarship, adding he is confident he will get a green light as he qualified.

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