Lesotho’s Mosito Lehata may not have been a medal hope heading into the 2015 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, (he finished in the first round ahead of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt); something that no athlete from Lesotho had previously managed at the IAAF World Championship. He also broke his own national 200m record with 20.36 when finishing fourth at 2014 Commonwealth Games, an agonizing four hundredths of a second away from a medal.
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.
He set his 1st 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 by winning a medal at 2016 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.”
His annual best are 100m (10.11secs) at the International (Athletics) Meet Reduit, Mauritius in April and 200m (20.42secs) at Meeting Stanislas Nancy, France in July, both in 2015.