Sunday, September 20, 2020

North West region sitting on athletics gold mine

Way back in 1995, one sprinter by the name of Bothojame Kwerepe was untouchable in areas around Mmadinare and Selibe Phikwe.

At the time, he was at Makome Junior Secondary. He went on to be a household name at Lotsane Senior Seconday, but cut short his promising career after being admitted at the University of Botswana.

It latter emerged that Kwerepe’s father was from Maun, in the North West region of Botswana.
The North West region appears to be sitting on a gold mine of athletics, especially in the sprinting categories, such as 100, 200 and 400 m.

World famous former Namibian athlete Frankie Fredricks also has connections with the North West region. He won many medals at the Olympics and World championships. He was the only sprinter from Africa who gave European and American athletes a torrid time.

By the time he retired from athletics, he had won four silver medals at the Olympics and several from World Championships. It is reported that his father is a Motswana who hails from Maun.

Botswana currently prides itself in another Maun born athlete, Amantle Montsho, who is the reigning World champion in the 400 m. So far Montsho is the only local athlete to have great achievements and she looks to have inspired many athletes, especially from her region.

All hope is on her to at least win a medal for Botswana at the Olympic games that will be held in London in September.

Currently, there are also emerging good sprinters from the North West region who appear set to take Botswana by storm.

One who appears to be winning the hearts of many Batswana is Sehithwa-born Yatea Kambepera.
Sehithwa is not far from Maun and also lies in the North West region. Just recently Kambepera broke the national record for the 100 metres and it appears it is only a matter of time before he does the same thing in the 200m category.

Just like the Kalenjin tribe in Kenya that produces many good marathon runners that are always conquering World competitions, it seems the North West region of Botswana has an abundance of talent, which, if nurtured well, might put Botswana on the World map as it has done with Kenya.

With also the possibility that the North West region could be brimming with talent in the short distance, many people are wondering if there are deliberate efforts by the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) to unearth and develop talent in the area.

The spokesperson for BAA, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, told Sunday Standard that they long realized that the North West region could be infested with amazing talent. He said they are already working hand in hand with two athletics clubs in the area, Maun Athletics Club and BDF Maun club.

“The way things are now shows that somewhere we are working hard at BAA. I can tell you that we have not really seen anything yet and a lot more is coming. The Maun clubs are doing a great job and already many athletes with a huge potential are coming up,” he said.

Ramatshaba gave the example of Kgalalelo Gaboitsiwe and Christinah Botogetswe whom he said are two good 400 m runners who are destined for greatness.

“Those two ladies come from the North West region and in a few years, we will be singing ululations for them just like we are doing today with Amantle Montsho,” he said.

Ramatshaba added that they are serious about talent identification and development in the North
West region to the extent that they sent one of the athletics gurus from Cuba to the region.

“The main job of the Cuban guy is to coach our athletics coaches but is at liberty to help athletes. The guy is doing a tremendous job and I am adamant that he is still sowing more seeds and his results will come with time,” he said.

In regard to other categories, such as the marathon, Ramatshaba added that areas that tend to show some promise are the likes of North East, Central, Kweneng and Southern districts.

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