Local athletes, Sesebo Matlapeng and Onneile Dintwe emerged victors in the PPC Kgale Hill Challenge when they were crowned King and Queen this past Sunday. The two athletes have been dominant in the local long distance this year and extended their winning streak over the weekend.
While Dintwe had it easy in the challenge, the same cannot be said of Matlapeng who had to dig deep and fend off stiff competition from Rapula Diphoko and Onkarabile. The pint sized runner clocked an impressive 47 minutes and 18 seconds to clinch victory in the gruelling race, just edging off compatriot Rapula Diphoko who finished 33 seconds behind him. Matlhare on the other hand was just a minute behind, having finished the race in 49 minutes and 6 seconds.
Having failed to win the race the past three consecutive times, Matlapeng could not hold his tears after touching down the line leading the pack. The pint sized Matlapeng revealed that it took a lot of training hard work for him to clinch the crown. ‘’I knew there were experienced athletes that thronged the event but i was not concentrating much on how they ran,” the athlete said.
The Kgatleng born athlete said as part of his preparations, he competed in the cross country races which are very demanding. ‘’When one competes in such tough marathons, it’s important to be fit both mentally and physically. I had to work on my strengths and it worked for me. I knew that most of them are strong athletes but not as good on the hill, so I capitalised up the hill where I knew i was unstoppable. I also had been doing a lot of cross country events since the beginning of the year preparing for this event so as to match them on the strides,” said Matlapeng.
Meanwhile for the ladies, Dintwe cruised to victory in the women’s category, clocking 56 minutes and 05 seconds. She finished four minutes clear ahead of Mema Tjiango who completed the race in one hour. Coming third behind the two was Thato Motswakwa, who completed the race a minute behind Tjiango. Dintwe, who has never been shy about her desire to qualify for this year’s Rio Olympics, said winning the hill challenge is part of her preparations as she will be representing Botswana in the 5000m category at the Africa senior championships. ‘’ I will be going to compete at the upcoming Africa Senior championships in South Africa later this month and i believe anything can happen. I might qualify for Rio as it is every athlete’s dream to partake at the Olympic Games,” said Dintwe.
However she lamented the lack of sponsorship which she says is a stumbling block as they desire to compete against the best. ‘’We continue to struggle as athletes in this country due to lack of sponsorship. As athletes, we appreciate the monetary awards that we take from clinching championships but it’s not enough to sustain us due to challenges that come with preparations of such events,” said the emotional Dintwe.
For their efforts, both Matlapeng and Dintwe walked away with a P10 000 cash prize each.