There are many great personal narratives and triumphs that have originated since the construction of the Velosolutions Pump Track in Roma, Lesotho as a part of the #pumpforpeace iniative in 2017, but Khothalang Leuta broke more than traditional boundaries and stereotrypes when she became the first local female Lesotho rider to win a Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships Qualifier in 2020.
This is her story…
“My name is Khothalang Leuta, I am 17 years old and I was born in Roma, Lesotho. I live with my mom, my dad died 11 years ago and I have an Aunty who helps my mom with a lot of things e.g paying for my school fees in order for me to keep going to school.
I started riding a bicycle when I was 7 years old and I was the fastest girl in my village. At that time I was just riding bicycles for fun. I didn’t even know that there’s something called pump track, but then when I was in grade 7 and when they were building it, I didn’t even know that it’s a bicycle thing, when it was done we were told that it’s a bicycle track. I was so happy that is was built in our village and it was the only one in Lesotho, it was the first and only pump track.
At first, I really didn’t enjoy riding at the track, I was the only girl into a group of guys riding and I felt very small each and every time when I had to train. There was another ride who came to me and asked me questions like. How do you feel about pump track? I told him everything then he was like “Nooo, where is your self-esteem, that’s very wrong, you have to ride pump track whether you are alone or not, you have to show people what you got. Show the world that you can be like your dad. Show the world that you can be a champion like your dad!”.
That really inspired me from that moment, cycling means a lot to me because without it I couldn’t have been where I am now and pump track changed my life. It took me away from bad things like drugs, alcohol, girls are getting pregnant at an early agem so it’s very important to me. It’s like it guides me in the right way and Sky Cycling League, our own monthly local league is very important and caring, it helps us with having that spirit of pump track with its monthly races.
I also wish to take part in other events at the other races and have friends and get to know each other, winning the Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships Qualifier means a lot to me, I got a chance to see different girls from different countries showing what they’ve got and me showing what I’ve got.
I’m very grateful that my family supports me, I made them love pump track in such a way that my aunt and my uncle would travel all the way from Pretoria to Lesotho just for the event, that my mom would leave work to watch me at the event. I want every girl who is riding bicycles to reach where I am today. To enjoy the moment that will make them not give up on cycling because so far I’ve seen that riding pump track is going to change my life, It’s gonna lead me to my future dreams and live an easy and healthy life. I always wanted to go overseas now that I have a chance. I will do my best for my family and my country. I want to make my dad proud wherever he is I will practice and practice and will give it my absolute all.”