'Culture’ forces Olympian out

At her peak: Moyengwa doing what she loves PICS: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
At her peak: Moyengwa doing what she loves PICS: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

Olympian, Magdelene Moyengwa has taken a decision to take a break from weightlifting citing personal challenges.

However, Mmegi Sport understands cultural restrictions forced Moyengwa, who became the first weightlifter to represent the country at the Olympic Games, to take a pause.

The 20-year-old has taken an indefinite leave from the sport amid fears she might not make it back. Moyengwa told Mmegi Sport this week, she was not comfortable discussing what she was going through but said it was about emotional and physical challenges.

“It is a personal matter and I am not comfortable discussing it with you. I have moved away from Gaborone because I need space to deal with this. But these days, I think I am much better,” she said.

Moyengwa said there is a lot that she wants to talk about but at the moment she is not comfortable opening up. She said taking a break from weightlifting was something that she considered before the Olympics.

Botswana Weightlifting Federation president, Joseph Mathambo said Moyengwa’s matter pertains to cultural issues. He said the Bazezuru community has strong cultural practices and it is a matter beyond their jurisdiction.

“It seems like when she was at the Olympics, they felt that Moyengwa might derail and leave their culture. They married her off. We tried to engage with her parents but they told us maybe she would consider returning in future,” he said.

Mathambo said they banked a lot on Moyengwa, especially that she would use her Olympic experience for future competitions. He said they have to move on and take her departure as any other loss.

Weightlifting coach, Alex Rankgwe said Moyengwa's spouse had asked her to quit the sport.

“She has quit weightlifting. She has been going around in circles. We tried for a long time to intervene in this matter since February but we failed. When we left for the Olympics, this issue was still there. It is an unfortunate situation after all the hard work that she put into her career for everything to just evaporate,” Rankgwe said.

At home: Moyengwa has been forced to take a break from the sport. PIC.KENNEDY RAMOKONE
At home: Moyengwa has been forced to take a break from the sport. PIC.KENNEDY RAMOKONE

Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), senior vice president, Tshepo Sitale said they were unaware of Moyengwa’s decision.

“That is news to me. We are not aware and weightlifting has not written to us. That would be sad,” he said.

Moyengwa qualified for the Olympics as the top-ranked athlete in Africa in the women’s 59kg category. Her success saw the country making its debut in weightlifting at the Olympic Games. She also increased the number of women in the Olympics team to six.

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