Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Team Botswana surpasses expectations

Team Botswana exceeded expectations at the Africa Youth Games (AYG), raking in more than the thirty medals they had promised. On Friday, with some events still to go on, Team Botswana had amassed a total of thirty-two (32) medals across divergent sporting codes.

This is a great improvement from the six medals that the team amassed at the inaugural AYG which were hosted by Morocco in 2010. The local youngsters took advantage of the vociferous home support to put up a sterling performance, surpassing expectations and raking in medals from even the unpopular sporting codes.

The biggest surprises came from taekwondo, weightlifting, swimming, badminton and judo, which all performed beyond expectations and brought home some medals. The five codes account for at least sixteen medals accumulated in the games. Taekwondo won three (3) medals, weightlifting another three (3), swimming three (3), badminton two (2) and judo five (5) medals.

The medal haul even surprised team Botswana staff, who had not expected such heroics from codes that are largely viewed as developmental.

Speaking in an interview, Team Botswana’s Chef de Mission, Tshepo Sitale, admitted that they had very limited expectations that the codes will deliver so many medals from the games.

“We had no medal expectations from codes like taekwondo, but they managed to win three (3) medals. In Judo, we expected only one medal but they brought us five medals. This was unexpected,” Sitale said.

The Botswana team Chef de Mission said the huge medal haul is testimony of the athletes’ hard work and talent, and also bodes well for Botswana as it seeks to develop different sporting codes. He said the establishment of these new codes, coupled with the performance of the athletes, will leave a lasting legacy in the country as they are now expected to grow and be more established.

Sitale expressed happiness at the overall performance of Team Botswana. As expected, Team Botswana’s popular codes, netball, boxing, karate and athletics, never disappointed as they brought home medals as promised. The Botswana netball team got a bronze medal after beating Namibia in the bronze medal playoffs, while karate won six (6) medals, of which two are gold, one silver and three bronzes. The karate team’s gold medals came in the boys’ team kata as well as the boys’ 55kg individual kumite courtesy of Thabang Setshego. Boxing is another code that performed exceptionally well, winning five (5) medals, two of which are gold while the remaining three (3) are bronze. With some athletes still to compete in the track events finals on Friday, athletics were in good position to add more medals to the three (3) they had already won.

The athletics team already has a gold medal courtesy of Kagiso Sibanda in the boys’ 400 meters, Baboloki Thebe’s silver medal in the boys’ 100 meters and Galefele Moroko’s bronze medal in the girls’ 400 meters. Meanwhile, Sitale said the heroics of the local athletes can only point to a bright future for local sports. He said with proper guidance and nurturing, some of these young athletes are bound to bring Botswana glory on the international stage in the near future.

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