Lesotho’s Mosito Lehata may not have been a medal hope heading into this year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, but nevertheless he had ambitions of reaching the final.
So when he crossed the line in seventh place in his 200m heat in 21.43, more than a second slower than his PB, he was devastated.
“It was my worst race ever,” said the 26-year-old. “I did quite well at my first two World Championships, but I was struggling with an injury in Beijing.”
Lehata reached the semi-finals at both the 2011 and 2013 World Championships; something that no athlete from Lesotho had previously managed at the IAAF World Championships.
But his best performance to date is one that he also describes as the worst day in his athletics career.
Lehata broke his own national 200m record with 20.36 when finishing fourth at last year’s Commonwealth Games, an agonising four hundredths of a second away from a medal.
“Highs and lows are part of life and part of athletics,” he says. “Being injured is really stressful, especially when there are major championships ahead of me. I have been down with injury several times in my athletics career but I always managed to get back up.”
Help from HPTC
Born in a small village called Ha Moima in the district of Maseru, Lehata knew that his home country was unable to provide the kind of support needed to help him pursue his sporting dreams. That’s when he decided to relocate to the IAAF High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) in Mauritius, where he is coached by Stephane Buckland, the 2006 African and Commonwealth silver medallist and multiple world and Olympic finalist.
“In terms of the support I receive from the HPTC, the list is endless,” says Lehata. “I get almost everything an athlete needs in order to make it as one of the best in the continent, if not the world, including physiotherapy and hospitality. The director of the centre is always willing to help in any way in order for the athletes to improve.”
Lehata is living proof of that. Back in 2008 he failed to make an impact at the IAAF World Junior Championships, but just two years later he was lining up for the Commonwealth Games 200m final, aged just 21.
He set his first national records in 2012 and went on to compete at that year’s Olympic Games in London. He has continued chipping away at his times and his 100m and 200m national records now stand at 10.11, set earlier this year in Reduit, and the 20.36 with which he finished fourth at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
His experience in Beijing was just a blip and he is keen to make an impact at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
“It takes time for an athlete to believe that he or she is as good as anyone or as talented as anyone,” he says. “It took me time as well. But now that I know how good and talented I am, I want to achieve my goals of reaching an Olympic final and becoming an African champion. I also want to become the first person from Lesotho to run sub-10 seconds.
“I know all of this is possible through the HPTC because they are always willing to help in anyway.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF