LAAA must introspect

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Mikia Kalati

A FORTNIGHT ago, the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) hosted the Senior Championship at Leshoboro Stadium in Mafeteng.

As much as I heard about the ill-preparedness in terms of unavailability of medals and other shambolic logistics, I think the staging of the championship was a refreshing move for the athletes and athletics in general.

I honestly think that the LAAA must do more than they have done so far to create more competitions for their athletes.

Athletics is the one sector where Lesotho has always shown a lot of potential be it in short distances or long distances but unfortunately, its mother body has not done enough to host more competitions that can help them identify and nurture young talent.

All the events that were staged by the athletics body this year have been well attended and for me, that is proof that local athletes are hungry to compete and prove their worth.

Our athletes always do well even when they compete in South African races be it in the marathon or other categories as has been the case with Tšepang Sello and Lerato Sechele recently.

I believe that often, our associations have failed to make progress because of cheap politics and infighting though LAAA has looked to be on the right track in recent years.

However, I feel there is a lot that they have not done right in term of looking for talent, nurturing it, exposing it to competitions and managing it.

One example is that of Mosito Lehata, a runner who showed so much potential and became one of the best on the continent in the 100m and 200m races.

After an impressive campaign at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Scotland, Lehata ran in every available race chasing accolades for his country.

Unfortunately, Lehata became injury prone and did not also receive enough physiological support to deal with his injury.

LAAA and the other stakeholders did not do enough to support him man when he was at his peak. Instead, due to our desperation to succeed as a country, he was forced to run in several competitions while he was on injury and this eventually negatively affected his performance. He pulled out of the 2016 All Africa Games and the Commonwealth Games 2018 due to these injuries.

It also does not make sense that LAAA has not made time to identify other athletes to take over from Lehata in the 100m and 200m.

I think we should learn from South Africa, where they ensure that they have multiple athletes in the same category because it always works wonders for the country.

Several years back, their 100m star Akani Simbine always struggled to beat Lehata but looks to have overtaken him in recent years enjoying a lot of success in major competitions. This is attributed to the way in which South Africa has managed and provided for her athletes.

It also does not make sense that as a country, we have failed to take care and utilise the expertise of legendary Thabiso Moqhali properly. This is a man who has been there and seen it all having won gold for Lesotho at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

I have interacted several times with Ntate Moqhali and I have realised that he is a very principled man; which could be the other reason for which LAAA leaders rarely appreciate his expertise.

It is sad that the people with the right skills and experience are not being utilised all in the name of cheap politics.

Ntate Moqhali is a legend and deserves some respect. In all fairness, he is the kind of man we would want to see holding key positions either in the sports ministry or in the federations because he has the knowledge and skills to contribute positively to the development of our sports.

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