© Tyrone Bradley
Khothalang Leuta is about to ride into pump track folklore
Learn how Khothalang Leuta went from teaching herself how to ride a bike to competing with the best riders at Red Bull Pump Track World Championships.
Growing up in Roma, Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, is challenging – especially for women and girls. But despite this, Khothalang Leuta is breaking expectations and inspiring the younger generation simply by riding a bike.
The fastest girl in the village
It’s not typical to see women riding bikes in Lesotho, but when a pump track was built in Roma in 2017, Leuta was entranced. “I was the first girl to ride the pump track in the village," she says. "But now I’m faster than the boys – I let my riding do the talking.”
And her riding certainly has done the talking. In 2019, she won Lesotho’s National Pump Track race, which gave her the chance to represent her country at the World Championship Finals in Europe. For Leuta, this will be the first time she’s been outside of South Africa and the first time she’s been on a plane. “I was very excited winning, that’s what I always wanted," she says. "I always wanted to go to the finals, so I told myself I shouldn’t stop riding.”
Leuta, who refers to herself as the “mother of the pump track,” taught herself how to ride. Her strong determination was fostered by her late father, who inspired her always to keep pushing. “That’s one of the things that makes me want to be on top – just to make him proud,” she says.
Not owning a bike of her own, Leuta has to walk to the pump track and borrow the local club bikes to practise. She enjoys handing out the bikes to the other kids who show up to ride, saying, “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.”
I believe that riding is a calling
Now she’s inspiring members of the next generation as they see the opportunities that biking have opened up. “Khothalang teaches the younger community that life for a girl can be more than going to school, being married and raising a family,” says community leader Tumelo Makhetha, who's witnessed the impact that Leuta’s success has had on other young women in the area.
On October 15, 2021, Khothalang Leuta will compete at Red Bull Pump Track World Championship Finals in Lisbon, Portugal. She may be the first woman from her village to take on this adventure, but she hopes she won’t be the last.
You can learn more about Khothalang Leuta’s rise to pump track stardom by listening to this podcast.