As children, during the sports lessons there were many things to do. From soccer to netball, keeping fit was always a breeze because children do not see it as exercise but as a great opportunity to play with the school’s balls.
With the many sports activities available at different schools, every child recalls the words, “On your marks, Get Set, Go!” It meant different children would run across the field and the winner would get a sweet from the teacher.
Some kids won the race every week and gave others a tough time during the sprints. Phomolo Lekhoana was one of those kids whom no matter how much one tried remained undefeated.
Phomolo Lekhoana is a 24-year-old young lad from Ha Thetsane, Maseru. He is a 100–200 metre national sprinter whose love for running was sparked by the many races he won at school. The passion for running became apparent to him when he kept winning many races at school. It was at his tender age that he realized that he is happier when he is running.
In his own words, “When I saw the opportunity that being a national athlete had for me, I just fell in love with it.”
Phomolo describes his journey as one of perseverance and courage. He had to overcome a lot of challenges. Sometimes the desire to run just fizzles away because there is not a lot of support given to athletes in Lesotho.
He describes those painful times as heartbreaking. The support given to athletes is inversely proportional to the effort they put in to stay fit. Worst of all, there aren’t a lot of companies willing to sponsor national athletes or even willing to give them long-term endorsements which would sustain them.
This is utterly demotivating for many athletes in Lesotho. The many supplements they need to keep fit are really expensive and without them, they become incompetent at international competitions such as the Olympics where athletes from other countries have taken such supplements.
As demotivating as the plight of Basotho athletes is, Phomolo says, “No matter what happens, my love for running is always enough to keep me running.”
He explains that depending on extrinsic factors to keep his love for running alive would destroy his passion. This is why he self-trains at the gym during the weekend and practices his sprints at the Lehakoe Stadium as frequently as he can.
This persistence has kept him going and landed him on many international grounds for competitions. For example, in 2016, he competed at the Botswana Track and Field Champions as well as the Athletics Africa Speed Series in Bloemfontein and Germiston.
In 2019, he competed in the Complex Sport of Prince Moulay Abdellah in Rabat, Morocco. He reports that it’s through traveling and meeting different athletes that he has learnt that hard work and discipline pay off. This is why when the going gets tough, he looks at the many trophies and medals he has won and decides and keeps going.
Phomolo believes that it is important that young people use Sports and other recreational activities to reduce the number of casualties Lesotho has because of drug abuse. Phomolo advises the youth to stay focused on bettering themselves instead of falling towards the pressure of using drugs.
In his own words, “I advise the youth to find a sport they are good at so that we have more Basotho representatives on international soil. Stay focused on improving your body through sports and you will ultimately reap the rewards of being a go-to when there are international competitions.”
Although his journey has been a tough one, this young man has proven to be a nut that is very hard to crack. We wish him the very best in his journey ahead.