It’s been two weeks since the start of the brand new year 2018, which sure looks promising in so far as local sports is concerned. 2018 looks like it’s going to be a fully-fledged sporting year for Botswana. Quite interesting about 2018 is the fact that the country is expected to host the 7th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport, which will be held from the 17th-20th May 2018 in Gaborone starring some of the world’s best athletes.
Also, the Commonwealth Games in Australia are back as well as the road to Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and already some sporting codes have started their ambitious pursuits. Every athlete’s frontward aspirations and main concern is to reach his or her potential to equally represent the country.
Over the years, Botswana through the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) have sent various teams to different competitions and the post-event analysis has always been a mixed reaction.
Who would forget Isaac Makwala’s famous solo run at last year’s world championships? Many pundits strongly believe the country’s conduct of sometimes celebrating our athletes’ mediocre performances needs to cease without further ado. This, they strongly deem rubs the entire nation the wrong way by giving everybody false hope as well as eating into the taxpayer’s coffers.
Many Batswana continue to yearn for positive results and it will be nice if this year our sportspersons bag several medals in honour of the Blue, Black and White flag. #Botswanaunplugged, in no particular order looks at the athletes who promise to become forces to be reckoned with in 2018…
Bakang Ebudilwe (CYCLIST)
She’s undoubtedly one of the most underrated athletes, perhaps because she belongs to a minority sport. At only 21, she has done it all despite the fact that she was unlucky not to have been previously nominated in the BNSC awards under the junior category.
The hardworking Tsela Riders member is busy preparing for the African continental championships in February and she is expected to jet off to Switzerland under the BNOC bill. In December 2017, she was in Rwanda to train in terrace equivalent to the Olympics standards after the Botswana Cycling Association selected her to the course.
She was also invited by the Tour de Tuli organizers to train in Austria. Locally she is the current female champion in all competitions. The Union Cycliste International in the Under-23 category ranks her 4th in Africa and 146th in the world.
Nijel Amos (ATHELETICS)
DJ Zoro may be having a slump in form from his 2012 London Olympics games but the Marobela-born athlete still has four titles to defend this year. Quite confident is Amos that he reckons all of them will be retained.
Amos is busy gearing up to clinch the commonwealth games, African championship, diamond league and the continental championships. Amos has since January 4 been in Porschestroom, South Africa’s high performance center to resume his month-long training. He will again travel to the United States (USA) where he is based until the commonwealth games.
“I have to make it and bag all those trophies. My cabinet can use some decorations. For this to happen, I have to intensify my training. I’m getting better every day.”
Mogakolodi Ngele (FOOTBALL)
At one point he was tipped to become the best football export Botswana has ever produced. Particularly so, if one looks at all the accolades he has amassed during his 7-year stay in South Africa.
Tsotso has won the league championship twice and has been highly instrumental on his other club’s success. However, since joining Sundowns, Ngele has been a shadow of himself and Ajax Cape Town are looking at luring the former Platinum Stars to Ikamva.
Zebras coach David Major Bright will be one delighted fella should Tsotso secure more game time as his bench warming delays national team progress. He remains the only player to have scored from open play at the Zebras AFCON maiden appearance in 2012 as a 21- year-old Township Rollers marksman.
Christine Botlogetswe (ATHLETICS)
Amantle Montsho is almost nearing her sell-by date and possible retirement while Lydia Jele could face a ban due to allegations of doping. As things stand, Botswana has pinned all its hopes on the Marion Jones-built look-alike, Christine Botlogetswe. She showed elements of class and further improvement at the last Olympics. The only thing that she needs to recover and boost is her level of confidence and Botswana will have its star.
At only 23 years of age, she still has the favour of age on her side. Another thing, she needs to shed some kilograms for a more refined athletic body. Being a sprinter of note, she competes primarily in the 400m category. She competed at the 2016 Olympics as a 21-year-old and is coached by the renowned Justice Dipeba, an athlete of note who also coaches Isaac Makwala.
So far, Botlogetswe has two medals under her belt, being a silver medal secured at the 2015 Brazzaville Games as well as a bronze medal from the 2014 Marrakech African championships, all for relay.
Naome Ruele (swimming)
The US-based swimmer only needs to come out of her comfort zone and compete in major events to claim her stance as the best swimming export. Whilst attending Florida International University, Ruele was named the 2015/16 Conference USA swimmer of the year after finishing in first place in the 50 metre freestyle 12 times.
At the Conference USA championships, she recorded a time of 22.33 seconds in the preliminary round and set a record of 22.23 seconds in the final. She swam in a further six competitions at the championships, three individually and four as part of a relay team. She won each time, for a total of seven gold medals, setting a further two records for her University in the 100 metre freestyle and the 200 metre freestyle relay.
Ofentse Bakwadi (KARATE)
Speaking about passion, Bakwadi is an all-rounder karateka. He has all the medals, trophies his peers and other sportspersons wish they could have and what more can he do in 2018? Perhaps, he just needs to maintain his stardom.
He is currently a gold medalist in the individual kata category at the 2017 Union Federation of African Karate (UFAK) Championships. Furthermore, Bakwadi is the first karateka in the country to become a first ‘black’ African titleholder.
Segolame Boy (football)
The Township Rollers midfielder has been disappointed to find a move outside the country. Though, he was tipped to join both the ABSA-premiership sides of Kaizer Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic respectively, Boy saw his all his moves flop. The second round of the BTC premiership league and the beginning of the champion’s league could warrant the Serowe-born dribbling wizard a chance to redeem his career at the international stage.
Issac Makwala (ATHELETICS)
After his unlucky proceedings at the 2017 world championship, Badman will possibly use the year 2018 as his renaissance pad. With his South African rival, Wayne van Nierkek tipped to miss the Commonwealth games, this could be his last chance to clinch the medal considering he has slit on the wrong side of 30.
Aged 32, Makwala knows he won’t be as fast as he was a year ago but it’s his commitment that could make the worthy difference. Last year he ended his season at an all-time high after clinching the coveted presidential medal as well as a diamond league trophy.