Naomi Ruele, a beneficiary of the Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC)’s Olympic Solidarity Scholarship, put up a text book performance and led the Florida International University (FIU) to victory at the just ended varsity games in the United States of America (USA).
The 19 year old FIU student touched down in 22:23 seconds in the 50 meters freestyle to emerge as the sole owner of the meet record. Continuing her impressive run, Ruele dominated the 200m freestyle relay for FIU and also excelled in the 100m freestyle, touching in 49.30s. In the end, FIU emerged overall winners after scoring more individual and collective relay points.
Ruele, who won silver in the 2nd African Youth Games, will kick start her Olympic qualifier trials this weekend at the Arena Pro Series in Florida. The Botswana Swimming Sports Association (BSSA) says the 19 year old is among the highly rated contenders who are expected to make it to the Olympics. BSSA Spokesperson, Sibongile Ruele revealed in an interview that Ruele will have five attempts to qualify for Rio; and expressed confidence that she will make the cut.
“She is a great racer and she has recovered well from the injury she sustained last year,” she said.
“She is on an intensive training program and she is very focused on securing a slot at the Olympics. The International Olympics Committee has also been very supportive by funding her training programs and competition. We spoke to her this week and she was very confident that she will make it to the Olympics.”
Ruele was among the country’s elite athletes who were awarded the scholarship together with the likes of Nigel Amos, Isaac Makwala, Pako Seribe and Kabelo Kgosiemang. The Olympic Solidarity Scholarship provides athletes with full support towards their training and competition needs in the build up to the Olympic Games. She has also won a Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) award and four gold medals at the African Swimming Confederation competitions in 2013. BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tuelo Serufho said this week that they are targeting two medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We will closely monitor our athletes’ progress during the build-up to the Olympics,” he said.