Ghana's Lydia Mato has won almost every prize medal available in her short career at Barton County College.
From the US JUCO Cross Country National Championship to the NJCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships, to breaking the national 3000m record, the youngster has compiled quite a list of accolades reserved for only the best athletes in the world.
Indeed, Tilastopaja.com had her listed as Kenyan, an indication of how they thought her prowess must mean she was from Kenya, rather than Ghana. After all, who could win as many long distance titles if they were not from Kenya?
The US-based Ghanaian athlete is now aiming to erase Gifty Abankwa’s 1500m from the national record books, having smashed the latter’s 23-year-old national 3000m with a personal best time of 9:31.97 about two weeks ago.
Mato, who is currently ranked second in the Ghana Athletics Association’s (GAA) women’s 1500m with a personal best time of 4:33.84, has set her sights on breaking Gifty’s 4:20.2 national record which has been in the books since April 8, 1995.
She told Liquid Sports Ghana from Texas, the site of the US JUCO National Oudoor Championships, that she is focused on adding the national 1500m record to her list of accomplishments.
“My next aim is to try to break the 1500m national record. I will run hard. Maybe I can break the national record. I am not sure whether I can do it but I will try to get it."
Asked how she broke the national record, she added: "It was because of the national record that I went to run that race.
“When I was running, I thought I could not make it but with three laps to go, I realized I was running faster than the splits coach had asked me to run, and that was when I realized that I had a chance to take the record.
"I was happy about it because it had been a long time since that record was set. Nobody has been able to break it for 23 years so when I broke it, I knew that I can do something better for Ghana.”
The Barton County College ‘phenom’ served notice of her intent when completing an unprecedented 4 four gold medals, wining the 5000m, 3000m, one mile, 1000m, and coming 2nd in the 800m, at the NJCAA Region 6 (Regional) Championships in February.
This was after she had chalked success at the US JUCO Cross Country Championship earlier the same month, becoming the first Ghanaian ever to win a US Cross County Championship at any level in the US school system.
She said, the secret to her success is hard work and determination.
“Actually there is no secret. When you focus on what your coach tells you, you take it as a lesson. When I get on the track, I just try to do what coach tells me to do.
“When I was running those races, I thought I could not make it. But some people told me I could do it because it was going to be the first time. Through hard work, determination and confidence, I was able to do it,” Mato added.
Lydia Mato was ranked 9th in the African 3000m ranking (with 7 Kenyans and 1 Ethiopian ahead of her) as of May 9, 2015.
She is also currently ranked 2nd in the GAA’s 1500m ranking behind Barton County teammate Agnes Abu who has a superior 4:31.00m time.
Mato is one of 18 Ghanaian athletes currently schooling in USA universities on GAA sourced student-athlete scholarships.