FRANCISTOWN: When winners of the Francistown beMOBILE marathon were announced all attention focused on two individuals, Zimbabwean Tabitha Tsatsa and Raobene Ramoseka who won the main races in their respective categories.
However, one man, Kgosietsile Motlhaping who was the winner in the wheel chair category, hardly received the same recognition.
Ramoseka emerged the winner in the 42 km men’s category while Tsatsa won the women’s category of the same distance.
The victory for Motlhaping, 33, was special as he triumphed in the first ever marathon featuring people with disabilities in the country.
Motlhaping clocked three hours, five seconds to beat other 15 racers in the category.
“ I felt I could go on. I still had more energy to go on,” Motlhaping told Mmegi Sports immediately after crossing the finish line.
“ I was confident I will do well in the race. I trained well for this race and after all, I am an active person. “The win is so special to me because I was the first person to win the marathon for those with disabilities,” he explained.
He said he was motivated by the desire to change the perceptions towards people with disabilities by some sections of the society.
He said there is a perception that disabled people are not capable of performing some tasks. “We are equally capable. I also wanted to inspire others with disabilities.
“I saw marathon runners who are wheelchair-bound racing before on TV (in other countries) and when the opportunity arose for me to take part in a marathon featuring those with disabilities, I took it,” said the Molepolole born athlete.
Motlhaping is a member of the Pang Wings Wheelchair Club in Molepolole, which he formed nearly fours years ago, along with other 20 wheelchair-bound mates.
Together with his club peers they participate in various races such as 100m and 200m. They also engage in other social responsibility activities. The Molepolole lad also said that he was happy that local athletes were now getting recognition from government and the private sector.
“ In fact apart from new policies tailor-made for the disabled, events such as this one show that those with disabilities are getting the recognition they deserved.
“In terms of policies catering for the disabled, I can say that we are advancing as a nation.”
Despite his historic feat on Sunday, Motlhaping is not new to the world of athletics.
He took part in the qualifiers for the London Paralympics in Tunisia in March 2012 along with eight other Botswana athletes. He was in the 100m and 200m categories though he did not qualify for the Paralympics.
He has also won the then Standard Chartered sponsored Winter Games’ 100m and 200m races several times.
The games stopped some few years ago due to lack of sponsorship. Apart from sports, the married father of one runs a multimedia studio in Molepolole. He said that the business has been running for several years and was funded by the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, under the Youth Development Fund.
One of the organisers of the marathon, Ben Tobebza told Mmegi Sports they were motivated by the desire to give those with disabilities a chance to prove that they were equally capable.