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Tebogo sprints to Botswana’s maiden Gold

Letsile Tebogo

Following a long spell off season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tebogo Letsile proved his mettle to win Botswana’s first ever Gold medal at an international event with a time of 10.19 seconds, which was closer to the African Youth record that was set two decades ago by former Nigerian sprinter Davidson Ezinwa who clocked 10.05 aged 18 years in 1990.

Letsile or “Schoolboy” as he is affectionally known around athletics circles beat South Africa’s Benjamin Richardson who clocked 10.28 while Cuban Shainer Rengifo finished with a time of 10.32 sec.
The 18 year old sprinter turned heads at the on-going youth athletics competitions in Nairobi, Kenya after demonstrating an authentic performance in the 100m heat races and semi-finals.

He subsequently qualified for finals with a time of 10:11s, the first for Botswana, making him, technically the fastest athlete to ever emerge from Botswana. For the record, just like Jamaican all-time Olympic champion, American sprinters Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, Tebogo can be a shining example at the Olympics should he be given the chance to spread his wings further.

The gold medalist, who is a student at Gaborone Senior Secondary School (GSS), exhibited a sterling performance, two weeks after the 4X400m men’s relay team took the country to Cloud 9 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. The team led by Isaac Makwala bagged a bronze medal, the first for Botswana in relay competitions, second after Nijel Amos silver at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Lanky sprinter is already lighted up the local track athletics scene with some astonishing performance that have set tongues wagging. Though he is not yet a complete package, so enchanting has been his performances that locals have found it difficult not to compare him to sprint great Usain Bolt.

Before sealing the 100 meter gold medal, Tebogo who is set to become the country’s short distance star – dominated his races at the youth championships after clocking the fastest time in the semi-final to cruise easily to the finals after setting the new national record of 10.11 in the men’s 100m semifinal.

Before the semi-finals he had run 10.22s during the 100m heat on the day. He brought the spark in the 100m sprint events in Botswana, as he has been dominating charts in localized athletics competitions. Without doubt, this power gave him the much needed poise for the games. In an interview with media, the poised athlete said he has always been eyeing for a gold medal, validated by solemnity in training ahead of this youth meet.

“I approached the heats with a decent mentality that we here for one common goal: to bring a medal home. This is something that helped me to effortlessly snatch the gold medal which is the first for the country. My instincts told me that I will wear gold.”

Even though it drizzled earlier and hence the disruption in the competition’s schedule, for Tebogo this was not much of a big deal. He shifted attention to warm ups and at the time of the race, the body was still warm and fit to lead the rest of his rivals. Tebogo has already left a mark as his auspicious performance was hard to ignore, not by international sport enthusiasts.

Prior to the winning the country’s first ever World Athletics Under 20 Championships gold medal, his semifinal performance didn’t go overlooked as the commentator led in saying ‘this Botswana runner reminds me so much of Usain Bolt, quite a rare gem that Botswana has. To a certain extent, this if factual.

Kanye native sprinter went to the World under 20 championship with a personal best and national record of 10.14 sec after smashing Isaac Makwala’s 10.20 sec in February this year, an event which granted him qualification to the World under 20 Championships.

Tebogo’s new mark of 10.14 was also a regional record, which means he will pocked P10, 000 cash for the feat from Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC). The athletes’ incentive policy of 2012 states that only athletes who break regional and international records will get cash rewards.

The young lad also proved his mettle under the 200m during the 2019 Botswana games when produced a sterling performance after he also broke Baboloki Thebe’s 200m national record of 21:25 sec, eventually winning the gold medal after recording an impressive time of 21.12 seconds which also book his plane ticket to Nairobi, Kenya.

Sport

BAA targets 2 medals at World Champs

28th June 2022
Letsile Tebogo

With just three weeks left before the World Athletics Championships kicks off in London, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has set a modest target for its athletes, demanding a paltry two medals.

The members of the team that will be participating in the event are currently training. They are expected to leave on July 10. The Botswana team, which was composed of young athletes, was able to secure seven medals at the recently concluded Africa Senior Championships held in Mauritius. They were placed sixth out of 44 participating nations.

According to Oabona Theetso, the Vice President of the Botswana Athletics Association, the team’s goal is to secure two medals at the World Championships. On the other hand, the under-20 team’s goal is to bag at least four medals.

Nevertheless, Theetso said the team which is currently on training camp encompasses of Isaac Makwala, Nigel Amos, Anthony Pesela, Bayapo Ndori, Letsile Tebogo, Isaac Makwala, and Thalosang Tshireletso of High jump just to mention the few. Theetso noted that the training camp was not able to produce a female athlete due to the failure of the female athletes to secure a ticket to the event.

Theetso also noted that the BNOC gave the BAA about P500 000 to help fund the team’s preparations for the event. Besides the training camp, the organization additionally received the same funding for the Oregon World Champion team.

When asked about the presence of renowned athlete and 800m world record holder, Nijel Amos, at the training camp, Theetso revealed that he has never officially communicated his intention to become an independent athlete.

When further pressed about the outcome of the meeting between Amos and the Minister – Theetso said, “We are unaware that he ever meets with Rakgare. If they met without the presence of BAA official, it will be wrong and highly regrettable,” he said.

When contacted for a comment Tlhobo Tlhasana who is Public Relations Officer at Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture confirmed to this publication that Amos met with Minister Tumiso Rakgare a few weeks after the 2012 Olympic silver medalist made known his intention to go solo.

“The minister is at liberty to meet any sport personality from different codes in his capacity as the minister. He doesn’t need the permission from BAA or let alone BNSC to have a meeting with Amos,” he noted.  Meanwhile in 2019, BAA sent a strong team of 13 athletes, with five focused on individual categories, while others were to form part of relay team.

During that time two out of five athletes who were to represent this country within individual events were relegated to spectators owing to injuries. But the injuries on the two athletes had left one question on the lips of many within the athletics fraternity.

The duo of Nigel Amos and Galefele Moroko, who were undoubtedly team Botswana poster kids, saw their dream of sailing through in the competitions halted as they were forced out of tournament owing to injuries. Botswana eventually came home empty handed after failing to secure podium finish.

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Sport

Rollers should pay the price – Zackhem

28th June 2022
NICOLAS-ZAKHEM

Botswana Football League (BFL) Chairperson Nicholas Zackem who is also a Gaborone United financier and director says Township Rollers should instead of being a hard-nut be remorseful on the Onkarabile Ratanang marathon case.

In an interview with WeekendSport this week, Zackhem says he has always had a good relationship with his Township Rollers counterpart, Jagdish Shah. However things took a nasty turn early this year when it surfaced that their left back Onkarabile Ratanang was not registered accordingly.

Again, the Rollers home game against GU played in February which resulted in a near stampede left him agitated such that Rollers should learn a lesson. “So with all these I think they should be remorseful and stop being militant,” he said.

His contention is, “this is recurring and with only one team – Rollers. Remember what happened in 2014 when BDF X1 was leading the log and they were docked points which in turn allowed Rollers to win.”  In 2016 there was Ofentse Nato (Rollers player) saga where he was also not duly registered and now we are here again with Ratanang. This should be corrected to better our football.”

The Ratanang case has been dragging for months now and has created unnecessary chaos in local football. Of late the football league awards ceremony had to be postponed with those in the know saying it is because of the matter. A statement from BFL however says the postponement is a result of logistical challenges.

The BFL boss says he does not care what should happen to Rollers, which is arguably the most followed football team in the land. “Even if the relevant structure could fine the P100k or relegate or even be docked points I don’t care but I want them to respect football. My worry is they should be disciplined because they committed a heartfelt mistake.”

Some football commentators say there is high possibility of Rollers be axed from the elite league because they are facing a misconduct charge which means they can only plea for a lighter sentence like points docking.

When asked about reports of some players from other teams not registered accordingly just like Ratanang, Zackhem said it will be up to the relevant structures to decide because as far as he is concerned, the Rollers case is the only one that has been reported at Botswana Football Association (BFA).

ZAC ON BRIBING REFEREES

The 2021/22 football season was exciting but here and there it was blotted by allegations which were pointed at Zackhem himself as the league Chair of buying referees. He has vehemently dismissed those reports and rumours saying the current GU arsenal does not need any favors.

“We invested heavily on this team and if you have invested surely you are poised to win everything on offer. Look at the players that I have do you think I would need referees to win matches? Most of the players have also been called to the national team and that alone proves their mettle. I don’t remember the last time GU was awarded a penalty this season, it has been a team work and those referee talk is baseless.”

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My dream is to coach at national level – Mpatane

28th June 2022
ELEVEN-ANGELS-HEAD-COACH: SEEMO-MPATANE

“I am a dreamer and perseverance is my name because after writing my Cambridge examinations a few years ago, I grouped young footballers in Francistown and started a youthful unregistered football team with them.

It was a difficult thing to do because the players were students and parents were not letting some of them to play football as they believed it might negatively affect their studies and some of the big clubs in the elite league will come and take my players.”

This is how Seemo ‘Sixteen’ Mpatane, a coach and founder of Eleven Angels football club which gained promotion to the elite league last weekend describe himself and the journey thus far. Barely two weeks ago, Mochudi Center chiefs failed to pluck Angels’ wings when they hosted them at Riverplate grounds during the first leg of the Botswana Football league promotional playoffs but this past Saturday Angels soared to a 5 – 0 win over them to reach the promised land.

The win meant Lekgamu la Bananyana (youthful side) as they affectionately known will now make a debut appearance at the apex of local league football. For a match characterized by a long stoppage time following clashes between Angels and Chiefs supporters, it was Angels who showed more battle to convincingly beat Chiefs and attain promotion.

Nevertheless, Mpatane said, “I continued to coach my team even when I was still studying at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) in Francistown and it was a difficult journey because I had some school projects to do and I will divert my monthly allowance to some of my players; to feed them, provide transportation for them and also to buy them soccer boots,” he stated.

In 2013, he says, he decided to register the team officially with Botswana Football Association (BFA) in order to protect the players from other teams and to make income out of the team.
He further said Lekgamu La Bananyana started in Third Division league when they got position one and gained automatic promotion to Second Division league although it was only their first season to play there.

“We struggled at Second Division because I had inexperienced youthful players and had limited resources like transportation, soccer boots and most of our players were sitting for their examinations, but we managed to avoid relegation as we finished in position four,” he alluded.

In 2017/18 season, he said the team won the Second Division League and qualified for the Debswana First Division North playoffs. During the playoffs, the team represented Francistown region, against other three teams from other regions, to be precise Chobe United, Maun Terrors and White Diamond from Boteti region.

In addition, the young tactician managed to produce quality players like Norman Mabaya who plays for Orapa united, Doctor David and Fortunate Thulare of Jwaneng Galaxy and Molaodi Tlhalefang of Security Systems who went and made their caps at the senior national team.

“I achieved one of my dreams; that is to take my team to the elite league and I’m left with one that is coaching at national level and I think after getting my license I will be ready to lead under 17, 20, 23 and even the national team cause it just requires humility, love, perseverance and commitment, but right I can offer my services cause football is in the heart,” he said.

Mpatane revealed his intention is to see more of his players participating at national level and overseas, as this week Zebras interim coach Mogomotsi Mpote called the 18-year-old Monty Enosa to be part of Zebras team which will compete for COSAFA tournament that is set to kick off next month.

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