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Letsile Tebogo: A 200m Bullet in the making

He is like a bullet when he is on the homerun, true to his name (Letsile) loosely translated ‘it has arrived’ indeed a bullet has reached our athletics tracks; and we are thankful, just like his surname (Tebogo).

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is famed for its consistency when it comes to producing some of the country’s top quality athletes, 200m specialist, Letsile Tebogo is no exception. In an interview with WeekendSport this week, Tebogo said he started seriously taking part in athletics in 2016 when he was still at primary school. At the time he was under the guidance of former national team coach, Mogomotsi Otsetswe.

“In 2016 during Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) competitions, I won three gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays. I went on to reach the national finals in 2017 under the 200m category when I was doing my form 1,” he shared. “Despite not winning anything the previous year, in 2018 I came back well prepared and went on to win two gold medals under the 200m category and 4X100m relays. I also won silver medal after my sterling performance in the 100m race during the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) national finals,”

Tebogo produced an amazing performance at the just ended Botswana games which were held from the 9th to the 18th December 2019, in Gaborone. The talented athlete smashed Baboloki Thebe’s 200m National Record of 21:25. He went on to win the gold medal after recording an impressive time of 21:12, eventually qualifying for the upcoming under 20 World Athletics Championships which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from the 7th to the 12th July. There is more competition for Tebogo to scintillate track enthusiasts – the Region 5 competitions will be hosted by Lesotho late this year.

The Kanye born sprinter is part of the five member team of athletes who booked themselves places at the forthcoming World Under-20 championships. The five;Boitshepiso Kelapile, Bernard Olesitse, Letsile Tebogo, Keoleboga Balemogi and Jayson Mandoze qualified for the games, after displaying a spectacular performance during the Botswana Games.The 200m specialist hailed the contributions made by his former coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe and also his current coach Kebonemodisa Koatshabe. He said the two have made a meaningful impact in his career.“They have been instrumental in my athletics career,” he said.

For his part, coach Molefi Josiah (Letsile’s school coach) said, “The boy has a massive talent, it’s very important to have discipline as it is the key in sport. We are also careful because injuries occur during the time when you tend to participate in many athletics events,” he said. Josiah begged Tebogo to start prioritizing his race to avoid taking part in unnecessary competitions as he might miss important athletics competitions due to injuries. The 17 year old is part of the BAA provisional team that went into training camp last week Wednesday in Gaborone to prepare for this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and also the under 20 World Championships.

As a young man the Kanye born track and field devotee tried many sporting activities when he was growing up. According to his mother, Tebogo’s preferred sport was football but he ended up excelling in athletics.  “We didn’t take him seriously even when he brought home medals and certificates until he qualified for BOPSSA nationals held in Molepolole in 2016.” This was Tebogo’s biggest moment because he qualified for COSSASA games held in Namibia back in 2016. Tebogo was fortunate enough to have a teacher with an eye – this said teacher discovered his talent at Philip Moshotle Primary School.

The talented youngster was later introduced to the National team coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe who galvanized him for greater drives of today. Tebogo should blast past Isaac Makwala’s records because age is definitely on his side and he has more time to compete in the sport.

 

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Sport

Rollers make digital strides

11th June 2021
rollers_0121

A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.

Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.

This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.

Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.

Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.

However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts.  They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.

FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.

It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.

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Sport

GU finally snatches Ditsele

3rd June 2021
Lebogang Ditsele

Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.

The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.

He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.

The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.

Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.

Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.

“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.

It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU.  His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.

No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.

It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.

Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.

However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.

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Sport

No injury problems for Amos

2nd June 2021
Nijel Amos

Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.

This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!

Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.

His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.

However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.

When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.

But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.

Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.

If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.

But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.

But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.

However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.

Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.

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