Making a statement in 9.96 secs

On top of the world: Tebogo after breaking the junior 100m record PIC: MONIRUL BHUIYAN
On top of the world: Tebogo after breaking the junior 100m record PIC: MONIRUL BHUIYAN

On average, a person blinks once every four seconds. A long-standing world Under-20 100m record was broken in two blinks. It was over as Botswana athletics’ new golden child jogged across the line with another feat well behind him, reports Mmegi Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE

That Letsile Tebogo broke a world record with a nonchalant jog across the finish line at the Gaborone International Meet last Saturday should be an ominous sign. After 9.96secs he had crossed the white line; it was done and dusted and a new world Under-20 record flashed on the digital screen. Other junior athletes from across the globe have toiled in vain since 2014 to break the Under-20 record set by American Trayvon Bromell.

Bromell was the first junior world athlete to break the 10-second barrier in the 100m when he set the 10.97secs record. That mark has never been disturbed and never appeared under threat until the emergence of Botswana’s latest track star.

It has taken eight years to break Bromell’s mark, and all the evidence has been building towards Tebogo being the man to beat the mark. Tebogo did not break a sweat when he smashed the record, as he raised his arms to slow down towards the finish line as the victory moment approached.

It was not an unfamiliar scene as it has been a relentless soak of the limelight.

Last year August, Tebogo held the world spellbound with his fast dashes at the World Junior Championships in Kenya. Gifted with one of the finest running postures, Tebogo chose his favourite hunting National Stadium ground to run his fastest 100m in his brief but blossoming athletics career. Before his home crowd, last week Saturday, Tebogo became only the second junior athlete to run sub-10 in the whole world. And he is the best of the lot with the fastest ever time for a junior athlete in the 100m. Such has been Tebogo’s phenomenal rise that at just 18 he is already a world junior champion and is tipped for bigger things at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Tebogo has made breaking records a regular habit. During the 2021 World Junior Championships, Tebogo became the first local runner to win a gold medal in the 100m. Botswana has excelled in the longer 400m dash with Amantle Montsho, Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda some of the prominent names.

Over two laps, the most famous name to emerge from Botswana to the world is that of Nijel Amos, a silver medal winner at the 2012 Olympics.

Now there is a new star over the shortest sprint distances. At 17, Tebogo made a bold statement of intent when he shredded Isaac Makwala’s national 100m record.

Makwala had set the record at 10.20secs, ironically, also in 2014. The Kanye lad then bettered the mark at the National Stadium, running 10.14secs. It is ridiculous that he has already registered two more faster 100m times inside the last 16 months.

In February, again at the National Stadium, he improved his mark when he ran the 100m in 10.08. Last week, he emphatically smashed his own record for the second time with the 9.96secs run, making the National Stadium his favourite hunting ground.

He keeps getting better and bolder, and Usain Bolt’s world 100m record set in 2009, could soon be under siege. It will take a monumental effort for Tebogo to run faster than Bolt’s 9.58 but it’s getting closer. Last weekend’s Gaborone International Meet confirmed Botswana was home to a human jewel in Tebogo, who has the world firmly under his feet.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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