altApril 11 - Lesotho, the tiny African enclave, has began preparing for the London 2012 Olympics with the hope of improving its performances and perhaps winning the country's first ever medal.


The Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) invited all 23 of its member federations to a workshop to discuss how they can send a bigger team to London in 2012.


They were represented by four athletes and a boxer at the Olympics in Beijing last year.


Of the four athletes Lesotho sent - three men and one woman - all of them competed in the marathon but none of them finished.


The boxer was knocked out in the first round.


Moshoeshoe Mokake, a spokesman for the LNOC, said: “We’ve talent in abundance, some of the athletes can compete pound for pound with their peers elsewhere.


“The new executive [led by Mmatlohang Ramaqopo as president] is serious about sending teams that will make [the people] happy in London and beyond.

“One of the challenges that we have identified as contributing to the dismal performance of Lesotho at the Olympics is the on- going internal squabbles within the federations.

“That is why we decided to invite all the 23-member federations and conflict management experts to assist us in that regard.

“It has been difficult for us to get sponsorship because of the negative publicity that our federations have been getting.

“We want to start seeing a situation where newspapers, radio and television carry more positive reports about athletes and not squabbles among the officials.

“At the workshop, we also had financial experts attending to assist our federations in terms of handling all the aspects of money.

“We cannot only rely on the Government and Olympic Solitary for financial assistance, the corporate world must also come on board.”

Lesotho, which is surrounded entirely by South Africa and has a population of only 1.7 million, made its debut in the 1972 Olympics in Munich.


Mokake said: “We have great athletes and boxers, what we need to do is to ensure they are properly prepared for the 2012 London Olympics.


“We have rising stars in table tennis, taekwondo and swimming, but the plan is to identify all the athletes with potential to do well in London and get the best trainers to help them.”