Sechele, Lehata set for Botswana meeting

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Mikia Kalati

LERATO Sechele and Mosito Lehata will headline the Lesotho team of 22 athletes departing the country today for the Botswana International Meeting which starts on Saturday at the National Stadium in Gaborone.

The team also includes the likes of Badboy Toka, ‘Mathapelo Molapo, Phomolo Lekhooana, who will all be looking to meet their qualifying standards for the September World Championships in Doha.

According to the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) public relations officer, Sejanamane Maphathe, the athletics team is being bankrolled by the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC).

He said the reason for sending a big team to Botswana is to increase Lesotho athletes’ chances of securing qualification for the World Championships.

“We have a team of 22 athletes and this is because it’s a big meeting and having a big number of participants improves our chances of qualifying,” Maphathe said.

“The trip is sponsored by the LNOC in an effort to help the athletes qualify for the World Champs.”

Sechele, who has been in great form in the New Year winning three competitions in South Africa in both long and triple jump, told this publication that she has not had the best of preparations but will use her experience to do well in Gaborone.

“The truth is that I have been preparing myself though it has not been the best of preparations as our Setsoto Stadium does not have all the facilities I need for my training.

“I did not do all the routines that I needed. I’m going to do long jump and triple jump in Botswana and I’m expected to do well in both,” Sechele said.

The bronze medallist from last year’s African Senior Championship in Nigeria said that the rains currently falling in Maseru have also not helped her case as it has washed away the sand she uses for her long jump training.

“Of course, facilities are a huge problem in the country. It’s now been almost a month without covering some critical parts of my training due to the lack of a sand bed.

“So, I would say, I have not really had proper preparations, I’m going to use my experience more than anything to do well in Botswana,” Sechele said.

The recently crowned Lesotho Annual Sport Awards Sportswoman of the Year, said her success last year has brought a lot of pressure on her ahead of the weekend tour.

Sechele is also a finalist in the Regional Annual Sports Awards.

“Yes, that has been the motivation but it also brought me under a lot of pressure at the same time but my performance cannot drop because everyone has their eyes on me.

“It will not be good if I do not perform well but I’m not afraid of competition despite all the challenges. I’m going to Botswana to fight for my country and the goal is to as I have targeted since the beginning of the athletics season,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lehata, who is returning to the international stage after a long absence battling injuries, told this publication that his focus is to improve with every competition.

“My focus is to improve every time I run. I want to improve in every competition.

“That will be the focus until the time I am ready to go head-to-head with the best again.  It would make sense for me to focus on winning the competition.

“So, I’m going to Botswana to improve on my previous times.

“I think we are on the right track. I have been working with my coach and things are looking positive and I’m confident that by the end of the season I will have made immense improvement running the fastest times.

“The most important task is to improve my time and I’m positive that I will do it,” Lehata said.

Apart from the hosts, the International Meeting will also be graced by athletes from Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia and the host country.

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