Letsile Tebogo is athletics’ emerging kid, with one of the fastest times in the 200m race.
The 17-year-old has already clocked 21.12 seconds in the 200m, and was agonisingly close to breaking Baboloki Thebe’s six-year-old record.
Tebogo ran the 21.12 secs during the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) championship held at UB Stadium in March. Thebe holds the national record, after running 20.85 secs, during the second African Youth Games in 2014.
Tebogo had qualified for the 2020 World Junior Championship that were scheduled for Nairobi, Kenya but were postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I had trained hard emotionally and physically in preparation for the championship. I was going to make my international debut. The postponement was a drawback because training was also cancelled due to COVID[-19] restrictions,” he said.
Tebogo said the situation is emotionally draining as he wonders what the future holds seeing the way the pandemic is showing no signs of abating. He added that competing without support from spectators is also demoralising.
“I am very passionate about sport, athletics in particular. I am the first born to my mother, Seratiwa [Tebogo] and I have an eight-year-old sister,” the Form Four Gaborone Senior Secondary student said.
Tebogo initially excelled in both football and athletics from the age of six. He said as time went on, he decided to quit football due to injuries and settled for athletics. Tebogo made his debut on the track in 2010 as a Standard Two pupil at Kidz Academy in Kanye. He excelled and was selected as the best in both athletics and football in 2014.
In 2016, he scooped gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay during the Botswana Primary Schools Sport Association (BOPSSA) competition held in Molepolole.
He was selected to represent the country at the 2016 Confederation of Schools Sports Association of Southern Africa (COSSASA) Championship in Namibia and won bronze in 200m and silver in the 4x100m relay.
Tebogo had to pull out of the 2017 Botswana Integrated Sport Association (BISA) competition when he picked a hamstring injury.
The following year he made a strong comeback at the same competition, scooping silver in 100m, gold in 200m and another gold in 4x100m relay.
Last year he suffered another injury during the COSSASA championship in eSwatini. Early this year he clocked 10.49 secs
“From 2016 until 2019, I was coached by Mogomotsi Otsetswe, but now I am under the national team coach, Kebonyemodisa ‘Dose’ Mosimanyane,” he said.
Tebogo said COVID-19 has disrupted his training due to lockdown and restrictions.
“Time lost never returns, every second is a dime when it comes to athletics. An unplanned break draws back the momentum built and it takes time to gain such momentum,” he said.
Tebogo said he does not have hobbies and all he does is eat, sleep and breathe athletics. He reads about athletics and how to improve his game.
Tebogo’s mother Seratiwa said it was exciting, worrisome and scary at the same time to be a mother of a champion.
“The excitement comes from him making me proud to not regretting allowing him to take part in sport. Athletics has kept him away from the unforeseen peer pressure consequences as he spends most of his time at training,” she said.
Seratiwa said she gets worried when her son shifts more attention to athletics than academics. However, she always encourages him to find a balance between the two.
“It is scary, as one can never predict how he would be able to handle the pressure from fame, which he is slowly but surely gaining. My family, teachers and his coach do try to prepare him
psychologically for the future which looks bright,” Seratiwa said.
Seratiwa added as a single parent, she struggles financially to support her child. Seratiwa said she fully finances his training gear and transport fare.
“But I am proud that I have never failed him, as he has never missed any appearance or training. He has appropriate training and appearance attire,” said the proud mother.
She added together with her family, they always travel to wherever Tebogo is competing locally (Maun, Francistown, Gaborone, Molepolole) and even in other countries such as Namibia.
She said the intention was to travel to Nairobi and rally behind Tebogo. She said the plan remains intact and they would be at the World Junior Championship next year.
Full Name: Letsile Tebogo
Date of Birth: June, 7, 2003
Place of birth: Kanye
Category: 100m, 200m and relay
Personal best: 21.12 seconds (200m)