LAAA must go back to the draw­ing board

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LE­SOTHO was treated to dis­mal per­for­mances by its three rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the just-ended In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tion (IAAF) World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don over the week­end.

Just like at the Rio Olympics in Brazil in 2016, the hopes of the na­tion were pinned on sprinter, Mos­ito Le­hata and marathon run­ners, Lebenya Nkoka and Tšepo Mathi­belle.

How­ever, the trio failed dis­mally as Le­hata was dis­qual­i­fied for a false start in the heats of the 100 me­tres race while the marathon duo failed to fin­ish their race.

This was very em­bar­rass­ing par­tic­u­larly in view of the fact all three are ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers.

To have top marathon run­ners fail­ing to com­plete a race tells a story of ath­letes that went to a ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion with­out proper prepa­ra­tions.

It is not the first time it has hap­pened and I do not think it is for the last time it will hap­pen as long we don’t get our act to­gether.

It comes from the in­com­pe­tence in our sports as­so­ci­a­tions where ad­min­is­tra­tors are just happy to travel the world with ath­letes get­ting al­lowances with­out any care for the poor per­for­mances.

Le­hata’s stan­dards have dropped dras­ti­cally since he reached the fi­nal of the 2014 Com­mon­wealth Games in Scot­land.

The na­tional 100m and 200m record holder has failed to live up to the prom­ise that he showed in his early 20s.

I un­der­stand that in­juries have also ham­pered his progress but I also blame the Le­sotho Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion (LAAA) and the Le­sotho Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (LNOC) for his short­com­ings.

In 2014, LNOC sent Le­hata to Mau­ri­tius on the Olympic Sol­i­dar­ity Schol­ar­ship with the aim of pre­par­ing him for ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions.

In the first place, I do not think Mau­ri­tius was a suit­able coun­try for a top ath­lete to un­dergo train­ing of any kind be­cause they are not a sport­ing coun­try.

I un­der­stand they have good fa­cil­i­ties at the Train­ing Cen­tre where Le­hata was based but coun­tries like Ja­maica and United States of Amer­ica would have been bet­ter des­ti­na­tions, given their rep­u­ta­tion for con­sis­tently pro­duc­ing top ath­letes.

Be­ing in Ja­maica or USA would mean that he would com­pete and live with top run­ners and I have no doubt that it would have worked won­ders for him.

I also un­der­stand that there are fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions and in that case, South Africa would have been the best op­tion on the con­ti­nent.

They have the fa­cil­i­ties and their ath­letes con­tinue to shine on the big stage.

A good ex­am­ple is their sprinter, Akani Sim­bine, whose star now shines brighter than that of Le­hata even though the lat­ter used to beat him ev­ery time they com­peted against each other.

Those who fol­low ath­let­ics will re­mem­ber the re­cent show­down be­tween the two sprint­ers at the 2016 African Se­nior Cham­pi­onship in Dur­ban where Le­hata claimed sil­ver and Sim­bine got bronze.

But it has been a dif­fer­ent story since then with Sim­bine en­joy­ing more suc­cess than Le­hata.

I be­lieve this has to do with the good sup­port sys­tems that the South African en­joys.

Apart from the fi­nan­cial sup­port that Sim­bine has, there is more pro­fes­sion­al­ism and hunger to suc­ceed from our neigh­bours es­pe­cially in sport­ing codes such as ath­let­ics.

In Le­hata, we are talk­ing about an ath­lete that in 2013 fin­ished first ahead of Ja­maican sprint leg­end, Usain Bolt, dur­ing the heats of the 200m event at the 2013 World Cham­pi­onships in Moscow, Rus­sia.

This says a lot about the po­ten­tial he had at that time and I am adamant that if his schol­ar­ship had been in a coun­try like the USA, he would have gone on to be among the best.

I think there are a lot of fac­tors that con­trib­uted to his down­fall and that was ev­i­dent when an ath­lete of his cal­i­bre could not even win a medal at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo Braz­zav­ille.

It was one of those years where Le­hata was over­worked and run­ning in ev­ery com­pe­ti­tion.

Proper man­age­ment of ath­letes and their bod­ies is one area where we are still way, way be­hind as a coun­try.

This is all be­cause we have ad­min­is­tra­tors that want to stay in power for­ever and do not want to make way for fresh ideas.

Get­ting schol­ar­ships for our ath­letes to train and live un­der bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties abroad is a very good ini­tia­tive but it be­comes a prob­lem when you take them to coun­tries like Mau­ri­tius who do not even have top ath­letes them­selves.

For marathon run­ners, we know that coun­tries like Ethiopia and Kenya are the best and it would be best to take our long dis­tance run­ners to any of th­ese coun­tries for train­ing.

Again, we should be in a place where we have two or three more young ath­letes com­ing af­ter Le­hata to take over from him when he de­cides to call it a day.

Le­sotho’s in­abil­ity to make devel­op­ment of young tal­ent a pri­or­ity was ex­posed at the re­cent World Youth Cham­pi­onships in Kenya where we had just one rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The best thing to do in this sit­u­a­tion would be to ex­pose our ath­letes to in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions while they are still young like South Africa does.

I hope this is a les­son for LAAA and they will man up for their in­com­pe­tence.

It is a shame that our ath­letes can­not fin­ish their races at ev­ery ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion like the Olympics and World Cham­pi­onships.

It is to­tally un­ac­cept­able and I hope the Le­sotho Sports and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion will come up will so­lu­tions to end the in­com­pe­tence within the as­so­ci­a­tions.

MARATHON run­ner Tšepo Mathi­belle.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.