Sechele back to winning ways
TRIPLE jump star Lerato Sechele has finally won her first medal since her return from her two years training at the Senegal High Performance Training Center from 2014 to 2016 which was highly unsuccessful.
The Moshoeshoe II based athlete jumped 13.31 meters and won a bronze medal at just ended Senior African Championships which were held from 1 to 5 August 2018 in Asaba, Nigeria.
When she left the country back in 2014 on an Olympic Solidarity scholarship programme in Senegal, she had just won Gold at the Africa Junior championships in Mauritius in 2013.
Sechele had high hopes of qualifying for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games that were held in 2016 and the Senegal camp was supposed help her prepare for the world’s biggest sporting event.
However, things did not go as smooth as Sechele had hoped and her dream of qualifying for the Olympics was shattered following a string of poor performances.
Sechele was one of five athletes awarded two-year sponsorships by the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) under the Olympic solidarity. The programme was aimed at preparing the athletes for the 2016 Olympic Games and Sechele was placed in a high-performance training center in Dakar.
Upon her return from Senegal, Sechele never gave up on her career and she worked hard to return to her old self.
“The Senegal stay, as much as it was awful for me and bad for my career, somehow helped me to be strong and pushed me to work even harder to unleash the potential in me,” Sechele told the Sunday Express on Thursday, a day after her return from Asaba.
She was temporarily re-united with her former coach, Reynold Salas who helped her with training until he left deserted her a month before Commonwealth Games.
It was then that Sechele started to compete in different competitions in the region and showed some impressive performances.
She also broke the long standing Selloane Tsoaeli-set national record of 12, 72 metres by jumping 12, 96 metres last year.
“Within six months of working with Salas I set a new national record as I was competing in different competitions regionally. Unfortunately, a month before the Commonwealth Games, I was shocked when Salas told me that he would no longer coach me although he did not tell me the reason.
“I knew nothing about his contract but he was just assigned to me as my coach and we worked well,” Sechele said.
At the Commonwealth this year, it was evident that she had returned to her old self as she narrowly missed the bronze medal but also set a new national record of 13, 57 metres.
She was the only local athlete to make it into the finals at the Commonwealth as other performed dismally in their respective disciplines.
The 24-year-old kept on pushing for improvement and has been in France prior to her Nigerian trip and also won another competition in Mauritius last month.
“This is my first medal in major competitions after my return from Senegal and I am pleased with my performance. I am actually satisfied because I think I performed to my level best.
“I returned from the Commonwealths with an injury and to make matters worse I did not have a coach since Salas left. It was difficult to prepare. I informed the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) about my situation and they gave me Selloane who had previously travelled with me to the Commonwealth games this year,” she said.
Days before her departure to Nigeria, the athlete also lost her father who she says was her pillar of strength.
She was however, not deterred as she travelled for the Senior African Championships and won a bronze medal. She dedicated the medal to her father.
“I was very close to my father as he was always supportive. Even for the Nigeria games, he always pushed me to work hard.
“It was painful to lose him just days before the trip. I felt weak but I knew that I had to do this for him. I was hoping that maybe I would break my national record but that did not happen. However, I am satisfied with the bronze medal and I won it for my father.
“It is now off season since I failed to qualify for the World Cup scheduled for next month in Ostrava, CZECH REPUBLIC. Only gold and silver medalists qualified for the games.
“I am home now at home assisting the family with the preparations for my father’s funeral service which will be on Saturday (yesterday). From there I will rest until I start my preparations for the new season,” Sechele said.