President Mokgweetsi Masisi led tributes yesterday after Keamogetse ‘Sadie’ Kenosi became the first local woman boxer ever to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Kenosi also became the first boxer in the world to qualify for the biggest global sporting competition, to be held in Tokyo in July.
Through a Facebook post, President Masisi congratulated Kenosi yesterday morning. “This is not only an amazing achievement for her but for Botswana as well,” Masisi said.
Kenosi booked her place in Tokyo after winning her semi-final bout during the ongoing qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal on Wednesday.
The top seeded Kenosi defeated her Moroccan opponent in the featherweight division (54-57kg) with an emphatic 5-0 win. Kenosi meets Tunisian opponent, Khouloud Hlimi in the final today, as she guns for gold. Her success comes at a time when boxing was pushing hard for recognition after missing out on Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
National team coach, Lechedzani Luza said he was excited that as a team they achieved their dream. “We have been pushing hard and we spent sleepless nights to perfect our art. Boxing is very tough as it involves weight loss and also having to perfect one’s technique and tactics,” said the proud Luza.
He said before Kenosi’s bout against her Moroccan counterpart, he told her to treat it as a final. “I constantly reminded her how hard we have worked where we come from,” he added.
Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) president, Thato Patlakwe said their target was to have two boxers qualify for the Olympics.
“We still have another chance to get more boxers to qualify during the World qualifiers scheduled for Paris in June. This is a strong youthful team and it is an indication that boxing’s future is bright,” he said.
Patlakwe said plans were underway for the team to continue with training after
Meanwhile, Kenosi’s coach at DTCB boxing club, Thebe Setlalekgosi said qualification did not come as a surprise. Setlalekgosi has worked with Kenosi for the last six years.
“I have been training her since 2014 when she was still at junior secondary school. She is the most talented athlete across all sporting disciplines.
Her main challenge is that she is lazy. She cannot train if not pushed but she covers that with obedience. Even when you shout at her, Sadie would never give you a lip,” he said. Setlalekgosi said Kenosi proved her worth when she won a gold medal during the 2014 African Youth Games. He said it was at the moment when it proved that she is better than her age-mates.
“She has been dominating the continent since then. She should be training in Europe right now because at home she cannot be offered everything. In Europe, the standard is high so it is only right for her to come back, bid her family, friends and club goodbye,” he said.
In 2019, Kenosi scooped a bronze medal at the Zone V championship and she was gold medalist at the 2019 Africa Games.
Setlalekgosi said the boxer does not have competition in the region since the qualifiers are now complete.
He added that Kenosi should train in Europe until the Olympics start. He said what kills African boxers at Olympics is that they give their European counterparts a lot of respect. Setlalekgosi explained that even when the African boxers are good, when they enter the ring, panic derails them.