Local athletes continued to stamp their authority against their African counterparts at the inaugural African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region Five Regional Annual awards held in South Africa over the weekend. Newly crowned African 400m champion Baboloki Thebe scooped junior sportsman of the year while the United States based swimmer Naomi Ruele walked away with the junior sportswoman accolade.
Thebe who has continued to showcase talent as a sprinter has never looked back since clinching the 200m Gold medal during the 2nd Africa Youth Games in 2014. Qualifying for the Nanjing Olympics later on that same year Thebe scooped a silver medal in a photo finish race. This season Thebe has qualified for the Rio Olympics in both the 200m and 400m and is currently boasting a 400m World lead in the junior ranks at 44.21.
The 19 year old sprinter was on top of his game as he scooped two Gold medals over the weekend at the Africa senior championships in the 400m and 4X400M relay.
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Vice President Glody Dube said they are excited that the youngster is recognised across Africa and he continues to impress as witnessed in the just ended Africa Senior Championships.
“Credit should also go to coaches and teachers who are the real mentors of these athletes from a young age”.
Swimming sensation Ruele has always been a strong contender in the junior category. Ruele stood up after spectacular performances that earned her a place at the Rio Olympics.
On top form, Ruele set new records and personal best in the 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle relay.
While the duo was celebrated in South Africa, another rising football star Onkabetse Makgantai emerged COSAFA challenge player of the tournament in Namibia. The Orapa United attacker was a marvel to watch at the regional tournament assisting the Zebras to its maiden COSAFA final scoring two goals at the tournament.
“There is a lot of talent in this country which can only be put to advantage when given opportunities to showcase. Makgantai is a good player with a very fragile character that needs good guidance from coaches and the boy would go places,” Zebras manager Peter Butler told The Telegraph.
He revealed that it is only a matter of phsycological strength that haunts local athletes but they are capable to compete against the best if well mentored.
“It is important to understand players character to bring the best out of them and I think the system we play suits Makgantai and Thabang Sesinyi very well but they still have to work hard as no one is guaranteed a place in the national team,” said Butler.