MASERU — Lesotho’s only sprinter at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mosito Lehata, will have to be extra-vigilant after organisers said they will enforce a strict policy on false starts.
Under the new policy crafted two years but only being applied rigorously at the Olympics, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) said any athlete who engages in a false start will be disqualified automatically.
Lesotho Athletics Amateur Association (LAAA) spokesperson, Sejanamane Maphathe, is however hopeful Lehata will not fall victim to the false start policy in the 200 metre race.
“The zero-tolerance policy was introduced two years ago after one top athlete tricked other athletes by making a false start knowing that they would all get punished,” Maphathe said.
“That athlete knew that if one athlete commits a false start, all runners, who didn’t commit such an offence, were all given yellow cards and anyone who would make a false would be red carded and disqualified from the race.”
The IAAF found that other athletes were winning top races by tricking others into making a false start knowing that other athletes would delay starting afraid as they would be afraid of being disqualified.
“That race was a painful experience for other athletes and that forced the IAAF to make a zero-tolerance policy on false starts,” Maphathe said.
Maphathe was however adamant Lehata would not fall victim to the law because of his past experience.
“Lehata often delays in starting a race after he was a victim of a false start in Namibia in the past,” said Maphathe.
“Since then he has never made a false start and I don’t think he will be a victim of this policy unless something drastic happens.”
Lehata’s reaction time is very slow, he said.
“I seriously don’t see him being a victim of false start because his reaction is very slow,” Maphathe said.
He however said Lehata’s reaction time is not always working to his advantage.
“Because of his slow reaction, he is always chasing other athletes but since he is a good sprinter, he performs well despite this hiccup,” he said.
Maphathe however said athletes are allowed to lodge protests if they strongly believe that they did not “false start” the race.
“At the same time athletes are allowed to lodge an appeal and run under protest if they feel they have been misjudged,” he said.
Jamaican Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, has already suffered at the hands of the false start policy when he was disqualified last year in the World Championships.
United Kingdom’s Linford Christie, a 1992 Olympic Games 100 metres champion, lost the chance to defend his title at the Olympics in 1996.
American Jon Drummond is also one of the top sprinters who fell victim to the false start law in 2003 during the World Championships.