Botswana will have twelve athletes representing her in the Africa Cadet and Junior Judo Championships, due in Botswana in less than two weeks from the 2nd to the 8th of October at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC).
The president of the Botswana Judo Federation (BJF), Ms Estony Hattingh, said the Botswana team will be made up of eight boys and four girls.
The eight Judokas, who make the local team’s male entourage, are Gavin Mogopa, Tirelo Lekoko, Edwin Sello, Montle Tlagae, Thabile Manenge, Lesego Modisa, Thami Majeremane and Thobile Bogatsu, while the ladies’ four members team will be made up of Kefilwe Pontsho, Memory Zikhale as well as Tiroyaone and Neo Kapeko.
The team will have two coaches.
Hattingh told The Sunday Standard in an interview that the local team is ready for the junior championships, which will be the first for the local cadets and juniors. She said going into the championships, the country has a target of winning at least three medals.
“This being our first championships, we had to set ourselves a realistic target and the three-medal target we have set is the most realistic we could do,” Hattingh said. With the team’s athletes being the products of BJF’s Long Term Athletes Development (LTAD) plan, the championships is set to test how far the plan has come.
“As products of our development plan, these are the athletes we are looking at to be part of Botswana’s first Judo Olympic team for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Our long term objective is that they will be ready to bring the country an Olympic medal during the 2020 Olympics,” Hattingh said.
Meanwhile, Hattingh said preparations to host the championships are going very well. She said so far, preparations for the event are far ahead of schedule and the country is looking forward to hosting a successful event.
At least 270 athletes from 18 African countries, including Botswana, are expected to compete at the championships. According to Hattingh, the tournament is bound to be very tough as it has attracted some of the continent’s powerhouses that include Libya, Morocco, Algeria and South Africa.
Having secured the GICC as the host venue for the event, Hattingh said they have also secured good accommodation for all the athletes and officials within the vicinity of the venue.
“All athletes, including the Botswana team, will be accommodated at the Met Court Inn while the officials will be staying at the Grand Palm Hotel. This will make it easier for athletes to go into the competition venue and reduce the problem that comes with transporting athletes and officials from places that are far from the venue,” Hattingh said.
On other related issues, the she expressed gratitude at the support her federation has had in organizing the event, saying she had appealed and received a helping hand from the African Judo Federation as well as the International Judo Federation, who have helped with funds and equipment.
“We are also very grateful at the grant given by Japan, which has enabled us to get mats for the BJF. These are the very same mats that will be used during the championship,” Hattingh said.
Aside from these, the BJF has had help from other sources, among them the Government through the Department of Sports and Recreation.