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Kgaswane proves size does not matter in weightlifting

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Weight issues: Kgaswane is making steady progress PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Standing at just 1.57m, diminutive weightlifter, Kgotla Alphius Kgaswane is testament that indeed dynamites come in small packages.

Kgaswane competes in the 55kg category and is largely considered as the future of weightlifting in the country.

He became a weightlifter by default, after moving from his first love, football. He said when teachers at Gaborone Secondary School called on students to participate in weightlifting, most of those who showed interest were girls.

“I was surprised that there were girls who were interested in weightlifting. So, I did not want to play second fiddle to girls. I was a footballer and I wanted an individual sport where I could work for myself. In football if one of the players makes a mistake, the entire team is in trouble. So I decided to join weightlifting,” he explained.

Kgaswane revealed that during his first session, he was taught squatting, which was difficult. However, Kgaswane was not deterred as he returned for further lessons and he began to fall in love with the sport.

A jovial character, Kgaswane said he continued pushing himself and made it into the national team for the Africa Youth Championships held in Uganda in 2017, where he finished fourth.

“I could have finished in position three, but due to stage fright I struggled and I felt that it was a lesson and I continued working hard. I was then selected to compete at the Africa Junior Championship in Egypt,” he said.

Kgaswane was the first local weightlifter to qualify for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He said it was exciting to be in the national team camp with stars like Isaac Makwala and Karabo Sibanda.

“Makwala encouraged me to work hard and I still have a long way to greatness after I finished in position 11 at the Commonwealth Games. He informed me that he was at the peak of his career in 2018,” he said

Kgaswane said his next target was the 2019 Africa Senior Championships but unfortunately he got injured.  “It was a career threatening injury and I had to take three months to rehabilitate. I continued to train despite the injury,” he said.

The pint-sized Kgaswane was selected to compete at the

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Zone Two competition in Kenya where he registered his Personal Best (PB), which was a national record. He went ahead to compete at the Africa Games finishing in position seven, where he picked an injury on his left shoulder. He was forced to take a two-week break and when he came back his coach instructed him to reach the 72kg and 100kg targets.

“We went to compete in China last year and I clocked those targets at the World Cup in the 55kg category. I went to lift 61kg in Doha and made two PBs,” he said.

He is preparing for the Solidarity International Arabic Championship that would be held in Uzbekistan in February. He would then compete at the World Junior Championship in Romania in March followed by Africa Senior slated for Mauritius in April.

“After those competitions I would be able to know if I have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games or not,” said the 18-year-old.

Kgaswane, who is the last born in a family of three, said he gets support from his kin. He said his wish is to train abroad in countries like China and Thailand

He added that when competing in the 55kg, he should stick to a healthy diet especially salads, fish and chicken breasts.

Weightlifting instructor, Alex Rankgwe said Kgaswane is a fast learner, but the challenge was that he had a tiny build and that made him prone to injuries. He said they were trying to shift him from 55kg to 61kg so that he can put more muscles.

“He can do with a lot of support because he is ambitious. When he is stressed, you can easily pick it because he is an open person,” he said.

Rankgwe said Kgaswane was identified through the Botswana National Olympic Committee talent identification programme. He said in all the competitions, Kgaswane always register PBs.

Meanwhile, Rankgwe said weightlifting needs technical support and the Botswana National Sport Commission has long promised to purchase equipment for them. He pointed out that weightlifting needs special diet and it is an expensive sport.



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