Defying misfortunes and working hard against all odds has been the mantra that has been driving Leaname Lux Maotoanong to success. Maotoanong has never on any day considered giving up on something that he dearly loves, athletics. He was a member of Botswana's 4x400m men's relay team who won gold in the last track event of the just concluded Commonwealth Games, alongside reputable names of Baboloki Thebe, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Isaac Makwala.
All his life he grew up and did all his schooling in Gaborone. His mother hails from Shoshong while his father comes from Tlokweng. Before her discovered his love for athletics he used to enjoy playing football with playmates, despite that he frequently took part in athletics as young boy and always finished in position 1. Despite getting position 1 he was very stubborn because he believed that he was not cut for athletics even when people would encourage him to take it seriously. “I felt forced to run. Running was never something that I was passionate about and it was never something that was close to my heart. I was not interested at all,” he said.
Asked why he was reluctant, he giggles, before explaining that he even used to consider athletics a stupid sport because he could not understand why someone will find pleasure in running without anything chasing them or without them chasing anything.
He only started to focus more in athletics when he was at Gaborone Senior School(GSS), because there a young man in the name of Thapelo Lekone emphasised to him that he should run. Lekone vowed not to ever let him go away until he appreciated that he has a future in athletics and developed a passion for the sport. “That was when I started focusing because I wanted to see what people were seeing in me and that is how it all started,” he said.
In 2010 he was invited to be part of the Botswana team in athletics after he just had a year of focusing on the sport. That is what gave him courage to continue working hard even though he had so much doubt. He was then supported to continue working hard because most people believed it is something that he can making a living out of. Just like any journey it had its own challenges and its own setbacks, especially because his parents were very skeptical about this swift, where they pushed him to study every day. He said it was quite a challenge for them to accept that he has found his new love. Other challenges were that he was staying in Kumakwane and training in Gaborone every day, which many people dismissed as a waste of money. The detractors inspired him, and he decided that he did not want to listen to anyone. That is what brought change to his life. “Those people that were crushing me and thinking that I am idiot can now see the investment that I put into becoming who I am today. They are eating a humble pie,” he said.
Detractors did not deter him but he got away with great life lessons because he learnt not to give up, he learnt to be true to himself and to follow his heart believing that he can succeed. He said making the national team is an achievement on its own, and he knows that there is more that he can achieve. He is still training harder for bigger goals, his dream is to amass many medals for Botswana. “I want to achieve more than what I have done so far. I continue to learn every day and grow every day,” he said.
Maotoanong said the experience at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia was huge because if someone is able to conquer such a big stage, then they can get into any stage and make it. He said bigger stages like the Olympics is what gave him the much needed confidence to be able to conquer it all because for the first time it is all about nerves because sometimes they are not even able to hear even when the for "on your marks is made". He wants to be one of the best athletes in the world, and he does so much research in regard to sports on different platforms because he wants to learn so much knowing that sport is a career and business. Discipline and humility push him every day, and he believes that with those traits anyone can go far, but without them people can be easily destroyed even when they have talent. He believes at this moment in time there is nothing stopping him from becoming great, making himself and Batswana proud.