Khothalang Leuta taught herself how to ride bikes to become faster than the boys in her Lesotho. Now, against the odds, she is ready to take on the world at the 2021 Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships in Portugal this October.
Here is all you need to know:
- Growing up in Roma, Lesotho, a high-altitude kingdom encircled by South Africa, Leuta is breaking expectations and inspiring younger generations on a bike.
- It’s not typical to see women riding bikes in Lesotho, but since a pump track was built in 2017 in her home town, Leuta was entranced. She said: “I was the first girl to ride the pump track in the village, but now I’m faster than the boys. I let my riding do the talking.”
- In 2019, she won Lesotho’s National Pump Track race, which gave her the chance to represent her country at the upcoming 2021 Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships in Lisbon across October 15-17.
- For Leuta, this will be the first time she has been outside of Africa and the first time that she has been on a plane. She explained: “I was very excited winning, that’s what I always wanted. I always wanted to go to the finals, so I told myself I shouldn’t stop riding.”
- Leuta, who fondly refers to herself as the “mother of the pump track”, taught herself how to ride. Her determination was fostered by her late father, who inspired her to always keep pushing. She revealed: “That’s one of the things that makes me want to be on top – just to make him proud.”
- As Leuta doesn‘t own a bike, she has to walk to the track and borrow the club bikes to practice. She enjoys handing out bikes to other kids who show up to ride. She added: “I always want to inspire youngsters, I feel happy that they support me. I want to do more for them to set a good example.”
- Community leader Tumelo Makhetha, who has witnessed the impact that Leuta’s success has had on other young women in the area, declared: “Khothalang teaches the younger community that life for a girl can be more than going to school, being married and raising a family.”
- She may be the first woman from her village to take on this adventure, but she hopes she will not be the last and viewers worldwide will get the chance to see her around the Parque das Nações live on Red Bull TV when the World Championships rolls out in Portugal next month.