LNOC, LAAA play blame game
THE Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) and the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) are engaged in a blame game regarding the departure of the highly recommended Cuban athletics coach Reynold Salas.
Salas deserted triple jump starlet Lerato Sechele earlier this year.
Salas arrived in the country a decade ago under a memorandum of understating between Lesotho and Cuba through the ministry of Sports.
He was assigned to work with the LAAA where he was able to produce athletes such sprinting duo of Lekhotso Letlala and Thakane Mapoho who competed in the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
He helped the country send seven athletes for that year’s edition of the games.
The Cuban has also worked with the likes of Mosito Lehata and Selloane Tšoaeli.
Salas has worked with for a long time Sechele until she was transferred to a high-performance center in Dakar, Senegal.
Sechele’s performance dropped drastically while she was in Senegal and it was Salas who came to her rescue when she returned.
Her performance improved and she went on to set new records and won several competitions in the region.
However, Salas eventually deserted Sechele just a month before her departure for the Gold Coast Australia Commonwealth Games.
On Thursday, LNOC chief executive officer Morake Raleaka said Salas left because the LAAA said they did not need him as they have their own coaches with the same capacity.
According to Raleaka when Salas’ contract lapsed, the LNOC offered him a one-year contract which entailed he would continue working with the LAAA in a talent identification programme from 2014-2015.
When the one-year contract ended it was extended by a further year at the LNOC under their high-performance office as a high-performance specialist. The contract ended lapsed in 2016 and he has been working with Machabeng College from then.
Raleaka said they had to stop working with Salas as LAAA made it clear that they did not need a foreign coach since they have all the necessary expertise.
“Salas knows his job and if you look at athletes whom he has worked with you will understand what I am saying,” Raleaka said.
“We have seen his potential as the LNOC and that is why we gave him a chance to continue working even when his term had ended.
“However, it became difficult for us when the LAAA refused to work with him. They said they would not work with a foreigner because they had their own coaches whom they believe have expertise. That is why Salas could not travel with his athletes to foreign competitions because national associations have autonomy on choosing which coaches travel with which athletes.
“There was nothing the LNOC could do and I cannot blame Salas for leaving because he felt he was not appreciated. It was tough for him to work with athletes through hard ships while nurturing them and then he got sidelined at the final stages.”
Raleaka said Salas has worked with Lerato out of his goodwill and he was not paid by either LNOC or LAAA.
“He was one dedicated man. Even when he no longer had a contract with us he continued working with Lerato until when he decided to take a break from Lesotho athletics.”
Contacted for comment LAAA spokesperson Sejanamane Maphathe rubbished Raleaka’s claims and said it was the LNOC which decided not to renew Salas’s contract. He recused the LAAA of any wrongdoing.
“Salas was a good coach and he helped the association so much and there is no way we would have said we do not need his expertise.
“It was the LNOC who decided not to renew his contract and there was nothing we could do because the LAAA does not have money to pay Salas. We did not have any problem working with him as he is a good friend of ours,” Maphathe said.
He also refuted claims that Salas was barred from traveling to foreign competitions with his athletes.
“Salas travelled with his athletes as he was in travelled to the Nanjing Olympics Games with his team. It is false that we refused an opportunity to travel with his athletes. However, we also have our own structures and we kindly requested the LNOC to tell us where the Salas’ responsibilities started and ended (at the competitions) so I guess that is the mistake that we made,” he said.
Maphathe said Salas’ departure was solely the making of the LNOC.
“Salas identified Lerato but the athlete was taken to another coach in Senegal where her standards regressed. Salas picked up the pieces when she returned and she improved until earlier this year when she was given another coach based in Pretoria.
“So, I think Salas felt that his efforts were not appreciated that is why he left.
“Hiring of high-performance personnel is the responsibility of the LNOC. Mosito still goes for competitions with his coach and we always recommend that he goes with his coach.
“At this year’s Commonwealth Games Tšoaeli travelled as the field events coach hence she was the one helping Lerato and Salas had already left by then,” Maphathe said.