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Sports admins must emulate West, Schmidt

Moorosi Tsiane

LESOTHO has for a long time struggled to make a mark on its international rankings in different sporting disciplines, a challenge that has haunted our country for years.

We are still way behind other countries when it comes to sports development and funny enough, those in charge seem to care less.

However, there will always be exceptions and this time around, cycling has also just come under the spotlight. Apparently, it is the only sport where Lesotho is ranked respectably in Africa and the world.

The country is ranked second on the continent behind South Africa while they rank 41st in the world, thanks to the efforts from German international Christian Schmidt (Lesotho Sky founder) and a Welsh citizen Mark West, a former Lesotho Cycling Association Secretary General who is now The Sufferfest African Dream Team manager.

The two gentlemen have worked tirelessly to see that we improve as a country when it comes to mountain bike cycling.

Schmidt has introduced one of the biggest stage races in the region dubbed the Lesotho Sky which is now recognised by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

West on the other hand is running a successful mountain bike team which is the Africa’s first and only UCI registered international mountain bike team.

This team has helped showcase the talent of Lesotho cyclists on the international stages and provide aspiring ride with a positive and safe environment to horn to their potential in this sport.

West has six cyclists who will be competing at the upcoming Lesotho Sky race which will start tomorrow and end on Saturday.

Lesotho Sky is now recognised by the UCI meaning it can also be used by riders to score points which will help improve their rankings.

West’s team has competed in different competitions locally, continentally and in some parts of Europe.

The latest success story is that of Tumelo Makae who has been granted a four-year Olympic Solidarity Scholarship for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Makae is currently based at the World Cycling Center in Switzerland where he has rubbed shoulders with some of the best cyclists in the world.

Our country has struggled to send athletes for international competitions as the government is perennially ill-funded and Schmidt came to the LCA’s rescue by introducing this annual competition.

It is unfortunate that until this year, it has only been West’s team that has managed to get its riders participate in this event.

Running a team obviously needs money but I still believe that there is hope for the development of cycling in the country. Other teams can use the rankings to their advantage when sourcing sponsors. It appears to be working for West and his team, so why are others not following suit?

Our sports administrators should stop being lazy and go out to source sponsors. Mountain biking has the potential to bring glory to the country and our mountainous terrain also work in our favor.

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