BY: Katlego Mechidi
Following been extremely hit by the coval COVID-19,Botswana sports industry resurrected in 2021 after a dull 2020 across almost all sporting codes.SPORTSNATION staff writer Katlego Mechidi writes.
Even though 2021 was a year where many athletes across the world faced challenges to get an opportunity to compete at their peak performance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is one of the best years sports lovers in Botswana will always look back to and ululate as some sporting codes performed extremely well flying the blue, black and white colors of Botswana higher in major international stages.
BOTSWANA SPORTS IN TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS
First and foremost ,at the world’s biggest sporting event, Olympics, Team Botswana sent a total of 14 athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics from four different sports codes being athletics, boxing, swimming, and weightlifting. Athletics was represented by 800m sprinter, Nijel Amos, in 400m, the team sent Isaac Makwala, Amantle Montsho, Christine Botlogetswe, Galefele Moroko, and Leungo Scotch.
For the 4X400m men’s relay team, the veteran Makwala led a team comprising of Leungo Scotch, Baboloki Thebe, Zibani Ngozi, and Bayapo Ndori. Boxing sent Keamogetse Kenosi who made history by becoming the first women boxer to represent Botswana at the Olympics and Mahommed Otukile.
Swimming was represented by James freeman whereas weightlifting made a debut and was represented by Magdeline Moyengwa who also made history by becoming the first athlete to represent Botswana at the Olympics.
Despite poor performance by the country at the Olympics, the 4X400m men’s relay team made a mark by winning the only medal in the final stage of the competitions being a bronze medal with a style, the team set a new African record for the 4X400m relay in the heats finishing second after clocking 2.58.33 qualifying for the finals. In the finals, the team finished third with a time of 2.57.27 smashing their own record and setting a new one becoming the first African country to win a medal in the men’s 400m relay since Nigeria in the 2004 Olympics.
Athletes Gloria Majaga and Edwin Masuge represented the country at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics where the duo became unsuccessful in securing podium finishes.
BOTSWANA SPORTS AUSC REGION 5 YOUTH GAMES
Team Botswana took part at the recently ended Region 5 Youth Games held at Lesotho and displayed top-notch performance finishing in position two with a total of 64 medals. It was for the first time Botswana reach such a premium position since its participation in the Region 5 Games. Out of 64 medals, 24 are gold, 21 silver, and 19 bronze, and athletics amassed 16 gold, seven silver, and seven bronze followed by athletics VI with three gold, six silver, and three bronze, taekwondo won two gold, two silver, and three bronze, judo won two silver and two bronze, football grabbed one silver, basketball won one silver and a bronze. Tennis brought home two gold and one silver medal, swimming won one bronze, volleyball one gold and silver, and boxing bagged two bronze medals.
At the games, Collen Kebinatshipi clocked a time of 47.21 that earned him a qualification in the men’s 400m for the World Athletics U20 Championships to be held in Columbia in 2022.
No local sport code had a prolific year than athletics, the association delivered 30 medals with 16 gold medals, seven silver, and seven bronze at the recently ended AUSC Region 5 Games held at Maseru, the celebrated 800m specialist, Nijel Amos ended the year crowned Africa Sports Personality of the year at the Africa Choice Awards (ACA) which were held at the Lagos, Nigeria.
The men’s 4X400m earned Botswana’s second Olympic medal and the only medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The team comprising of Anthony Pesela, Bayapo Ndori, Baboloki Thebe, Isaac Makwala, Leungo Scotch, and Zibane Ngozi won bronze and was each gifted house for their exceptional Olympics display, they broke men’s 4X400m African record and became the first African country to finish in podium position since Nigeria in 2004.
WORLD ATHLETICS U20 CHAMPIONSHIP
Botswana took part in the World under 20 Athletics Championships held in Kenya and performed exceptionally well scooping three gold medals and one silver. The boys 4X400m relay team, Anthony Pesela in 400m and Tebogo Letsile in 100m delivered gold medals while Tebogo got silver in 200m.
In the process, Anthony Pesela registered a championship record of 44:58 and booked himself a slot at the 2022 World Championships in Oregon, USA whereas Tebogo Letsile set a new national record after stopping the clock at 10:11 in the men’s 100m semi-final.
In football, Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United made a mark in continental competitions despite 18 months break caused by covid-19. Galaxy competes in CAF Champions League whereas Orapa United competed in CAF Confederations Cup.
Galaxy became the second club from Botswana to reach the group stage of the CAF Champions League after Township Rollers.
“Galaxy stars” as well-known started their CAF campaign against Diplomat FC of Central Africa and easily won with an aggregate of 2-l after winning 2-0 in Gaborone and losing 1-0 away. The Galaxy Stars was then given Simba SC of Tanzania which many didn’t see them proceeding to the next stage, they lost 2-0 at the national stadium Gaborone and turned the impossibilities into possibilities by defeating the experienced Tanzanian giants at the home ground 3-1 and winning on aggregate with away goals.
Orapa United was eliminated from the second round of the competition by Cotton Sport of Cameroon with an aggregate of 2-2 after winning 2-1 home and being defeated one-nil away. In the first round, Orapa defeated AS Mangasport of Gabon 3-2 in a penalty shootout after playing an aggregate of 0-0.
Women football received a sponsorship of P2.4 Million courtesy of Diamond Trading Company Botswana of which part of the amount is expected to be channeled towards the developments.
REBATENNE AND MALOKA MADE HEADLINES IN TABLE TENNIS
Botswana Table Tennis national team duo of Tshepiso Rebatenne and Bakang Maloka took part in South African Regional Championships and brought home each bronze medal. The national team also took part in Africa Senior World Championships in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Still, in table tennis, they had a fruitful year as they successfully held their monthly events including Independence Grand Finale which carried a life-changing award of P25 000 for each category on top of prize money.
More than 100 players took part in the Grand Finale tournament which shows how huge the tournament grew in the year 2021 and both men and women’s champions walked away with a life-changing award of P31 000.
BOXING SENT KEAMOGETSE KENOSI
Boxing also ended the year on a positive note having sent Botswana’s first female boxer Keamogetswee Kenosi to the Tokyo Olympics, despite a lengthy break from action due to covid-19, boxing managed to successfully host their rotational fortnight Interclub tournaments and the year ended having staged three tournaments at BUAN hall, Glen Valley and BIUST.
A national team of young boxers was also sent to Lesotho for the AUSC region 5 youth games where they scooped two bronze medals.
BoBA managed to hold a successful elective congress where the former national team manager and champion, Gilbert Khunwane was elected the president of the association assisted by Othusitse Mogatsakgotla.
TENNIS IN AFRICA
The national Tennis team finished second during the Africa Davis Cup that was held in Congo, Brazzaville, and secured a spot in the playoffs. The association also launched beach tennis in association with ITF.
BTA was more on youth development this year and their under 18 players competed in International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments in a number of countries around the world such as Region 5 Youth Games recently held in Lesotho where team Botswana scopped four medals.
The BTA also ensured that some of the players relocate overseas to polish their skills amongst the top-seeded players. Some of the players playing college tennis in the United States of America (USA) are Thabo Holmes and Tshepo Mosarwa who won the USA South Men’s Tennis Conference Championship in mid-2021.
Anele Maplanka and Bonolo Molefe are also playing college tennis in the USA, sixteen-year-old Ekua Youri based in Spain training with Barcelona Tennis Academy won two Women Open tournaments this year and reached the final, she recently won the ITF under 18 tournament in Spain beating the number one seeded, Sarah Tau of Britain.
Naledi Raguin, based in France is also doing exceptionally well. Most of the local players ended the year with improved international rankings which brings them closer to competing in big events such as Junior Wimbledon, US, and French Open.
KARATE AT WORLD KARATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Botswana Karate show little action but took part at the World Senior Karate Championships in Dubai where two male karatekas, Kagiso Mophuting and Gofaone Mosupiemang contested, sadly the duo fell off the preliminaries.
Still at the tournament, the caretaker coach of the national team, China Metswi got WKF accreditation as a kata coach.
This year, Botswana lost some of the sports icons, amongst them including the veteran coaches, Major David Bright and Pio Paul. The country Elsie Kenosi and Ishmael Bhamjee.
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