The Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) must commit to unconditionally providing for the country’s World Athletics Championships heroes, Letsile Tebogo and Anthony Pesela. In the absence of this, the two should opt for the USA as their training base, an expert has advised.
Tebogo and Pesela proved untouchable at the just-ended World Athletics Under-20 Championships where Tebogo won a gold medal in the 100m and a silver in the 200m while Pesela won a gold in the 400m race with a championships record of 44.58 seconds which also qualified him for next year’s World Athletics Senior Championships. He was also an influential member of the men’s 4x400m that won a gold medal.
Following these athletes’ feats, a lecturer in the University of Botswana’s Sports and Science Department, Dr. Tshephang Tshube, has called on the BNSC and BNOC to commit to support the athletes so that they continue training in Botswana. “They won global medals training here with local coaches,” Dr. Tshube said in an interview with this publication. “This is an opportunity for Botswana to see to additional athletes and coaches’ infrastructure. They will need sports psychologists, nutritionists and sport doctors.”
Tshube noted that if the BNSC and the BNOC cannot commit to supporting athletes in Botswana, the athletes will have to opt for Division 1 (D1) schools in the US. “A D1 school will provide training, nutrition and support all an athlete’s needs,” he stated. “In addition, D1 schools provide the best education for these athletes. However, the challenge is that athletes respond differently to a transition into the USA. Some athletes do well but some may struggle. Studies show that it takes about a year for athletes to fully transition. So this is a risk as our athletes may not transition well.”
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is of the view that athletes should continue training in Botswana. According to the organisation’s Vice President Administration, Oabona Theetso, there is no need for athletes to opt for other countries as their training bases when they performed well while in Botswana. “History also shows that our athletes usually do not perform well when they are based outside Botswana,” Theetso said. “The likes of Isaac Makwala, Fanuel Kenosi and Pako Seribe did not perform well when they were based out of the country, only for them to run well when they returned. It is only Amantle Montsho who performed well when she was based in Senegal.”
WHAT DO TEBOGO AND PESELA NEED TO TRANSITION FROM JUNIOR TO SENIOR LEVEL?
According to Dr. Tshube there are a number of factors that influence athletes’ transition from junior to senior. “The first key factor is a holistic talent development environment,” he advised. “A holistic talent development environment provides good athletic training and nurtures athletes’ mental development, psychosocial development and academic development. For example, athletes who stay in school have a better chance of transition than those who do not. The second factor is context. We need to engage the family and the coach so that the athlete can receive contextually relevant support.”
DR TSHUBE WARNS TEBOGO AND PESELA
Dr. Tshube took the opportunity of the interview to warn Tebogo and Pesela to remain focused and not to let external forces disturb their careers. “That is because a small percentage of athletes winning at World Athletics U20 Championships go on to win at the Olympics as they do not transition to senior level,” he noted. “They quit the sport due to burnout or they are de-selected.”