Matshediso ‘Bakang’ Ebudilwe landed on the bicycle saddle after dropping out of football.
Today she has eyes set on becoming an Olympian.
Ebudilwe was born in Mahalapye 24 years ago. She told Mmegi Sport that she wanted to try something after dropping from the school football team.
The other reason was that she wanted to represent Botswana at the second African Youth Games that took place in Gaborone in 2014.
“Cycling was the only available option that could take me to the Youth Games. By then I was a Form Five student at Ledumang Secondary School. Fortunately, I made it into the team and started training,” she said.
“My first race was in Limpopo in 2014. It was road race and very difficult and I did not even complete it. There were a lot of climbing and the altitude was different from Botswana. I was an inexperienced cyclist riding with a group of people. To make matters worse I was riding a Merida bicycle which was heavy.”
Ebudilwe together with the rest of the team were coached by John Benett, Jeremiah Kokwane and managed by David Lebalelo. Upon arrival back home ahead of the Games, the team camped in Lobatse.
“I remember very well what happened because I had to join the camp late as I was waiting for the school to close. However, I had a very bad experience at the Youth Games. I did not know what was going on especially on the Time Trials (TT). We saw countries arriving with bicycles specially designed for TT and we were using the same Merida heavy bicycles,” Ebudilwe said.
After the bad experience at the Games, Ebudilwe decided to join a club and became a member of Tsela Riders.
It was a brilliant move by the talented cyclist as she was given a bicycle by the club. She said Botswana Cycling Association (BCA) took back their Merida.
“And I think that is why most riders quit after Youth Games because they could not afford to buy their own bikes,” she added. Ebudilwe said even when she was busy with all that, her family knew nothing about her passion.
“But my mother could see that I have love for cycling so she decided to allow me to follow my
Ebudilwe also said she started learning more about the sport, did some research and tried to learn new techniques. After a month with Tsela Riders, she started winning junior races and it was motivation enough that she needed and her Olympic dream struck her.
In 2018, Ebudilwe was awarded Olympic Solidarity Scholarship and went to train at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland.
“The experience was fantastic. I learnt a lot and I managed to study coaching and got my Level 1 coaching certificate. I did the world championships and it was history for Botswana. I am the first Motswana cyclist to do world championships and first Motswana to be at the Centre. I came second in one of the races and most of them I just completed as the competition was tough,” she said beaming with confidence.
Ebudilwe is the current champion of both the road race and mountain bike (MTB). She is an all round cyclist with endurance and sprint. She is now preparing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Ebudilwe said it is a challenging period for her because she must balance cycling and her studies.
Ebudilwe is studying BA Hons in International Business.
“Sometimes I skip school to attend camps and competitions outside. In Switzerland, Charlie Evans coached me and locally I am coached by Kokwane. The 2019 African Games were also Olympic qualifiers,” she said.
Ebudilwe dreams of being an Olympian and after that she wants to develop a track where she could train kids. She wants to see more kids riding bicycles with races for developing riders. “My role model is Serena Williams. If I go to the Olympics, I would like to become a mother like her one day and name my child Olympia,” she said.
Full names: Matshediso Bakang Ebudilwe
Date of birth: June 17, 1996
Place of birth: Mahalapye
Club: Tsela Riders
Achievements: Winning national titles from 2014 to date, being at the world center, finishing 17 seconds behind fastest woman in Africa at the 2019 African Games.
Role model: Serena Williams
Hobbies: Watching tv, playing video games and exploring recipe for baking