A golden talent

Kitso Ramono
SPECIAL AMBASSADORS: Team BW did the nation proud in Germany INSET: Onneng (l) and Nyati

A 19-year-old Francistowner has returned to Ghetto a hero after winning Gold and Bronze medals at the Special Olympics in Berlin, Germany last month.

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Onalethata Onneng, a student at Moremogolo Primary School special class unit, was part of a 25-athlete squad that represented Botswana in the German capital.

The World Games, which ran from 17 – 25 June, featured 7, 000 special Olympians from 190 nations competing in 26 sports.

In total, Team BW managed seven medals, a haul that included two Golds, four Silvers and a single Bronze.

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Diagnosed with intellectual and learning disabilities when she was in Standard 4, Onneng starred at Bocce, a sport she only took up last year! The teen superstar bowled her way to top spot in the singles and then third place in the mixed doubles.

Similar to bowls, Bocce, a game with Italian roots, is played with eight weighted balls aimed at a smaller, target ball, known as the pallino. The objective is to earn points by getting your balls closer to the pallino than your opponent.

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Speaking to Voice Sport at a special welcome ceremony in the second city, Moremogolo’s Head of Department Learning Disability, Kabelo Sephekolo, said Onneng’s success was all the more sensational considering she’s still very new to the sport.

“We’re amazed by her talent. Onalethata was never a sportsperson – she only started training last year because we mostly force them to participate in extra-curricular activities. She did well during the selections in November, and was selected for the Olympics,” Sephekolo explained.

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For her part, the proud star beamed with joy at her exploits.

“I am overjoyed to have won these medals, and I assure you that there will be more,” declared Onneng, displaying the fierce competitiveness of a champion.

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It was double delight for Moremogolo, as another of their students, 18-year-old Patrick Nyati, was part of the men’s volleyball team that won silver.

Reflecting on the country’s European efforts, National Director of Special Olympics Botswana, Ross Tebele, said it showed pleasing progress from the previous games, in Abu Dhabi back in 2019.

“If you recall, our last appearance resulted in six medals, while this year resulted in seven. This demonstrates an improvement in the association, and it calls on the government to begin providing us with more money so that we can start developing our athletes,” urged Tebele.

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