Teen shines in Ghetto to qualify for U/20 World Championships
While all eyes were on global superstar, Letsile ‘Schoolboy’ Tebogo, it was a little known 18-year-old who stole the show at the Botswana Athletics Association’s first meet of the season in Ghetto on Saturday.
Taking part in the 400m juniors, Enerst Kumevu ran the race of his young life, moving faster than he ever has before to shave more than half-a-second off his personal best and clock 47.1 seconds.
In doing so, the Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) athlete smashed the time required (47.6 seconds) to qualify for the U/20 World Athletics Championships, which take place in Lima, Peru at the end of August.
The highly-rated Etsha native led the race from start to finish in a dominant display that suggests the country may have unearthed another 400m gem.
Speaking to Voice Sport at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium shortly after his rapid run, the teen admitted he had exceeded his own expectations.
“Even though it was an unexpected qualification, as the plan was to do better than last season or run a personal best, I am very much happy to have qualified for Lima24,” said Kumevu, who will now compete on the stage where Letsile rose to prominence two years ago.
Despite his young charge’s heroics, FAC Coach, Nico ‘Keita’ Manyepedza is confident he can, and will, go faster.
“He’s good enough to run a sub 47 before the World games!” declared Manyepedza, adding they will put the work in to ensure this happens.
Kumevu’s progress capped a successfully day for the coach and his team, with another of their athletes, Omphile Seribe, qualifying for the Africa Games.
The 30-year-old soldier outshone Letsile, as well as seasoned campaigners, Bayapo Ndori and Leungo Scotch, to claim the 400m men’s race.
Stopping the clock at 46.42 seconds (0.02 off his best ever time), Seribe pushed Letsile (46.72) and Ndori (46.74) into second and third place; whatever happens in the rest of his career, he will always be able to tell people of the day he beat the famous Letsile!
“Our team’s aim was not to put too much pressure on ourselves to qualify for any event as this was the season opener. Our goal heading into the event was to beat our previous season’s time and possibly set a personal best,” said Manyepedza, noting that going forward the aim is to qualify more athletes for the Africa Games, set for Accra, Ghana in March.
As the BAA event wound down after a hectic day, there was still time for 400m hurdlers, Victor Ntweng and Kemorena Tisang to book their places on the plane to West Africa.
The 29-year-old pair, both Maun Athletics Club members under the tutelage of Kebonyemodisa ‘Dose’ Mosimanyane, thrilled as they sped round the track, expertly leaping the hurdles before them.
Ntweng took first in a time of 50.16, Tisang close behind in 50.74; both were fast enough to make it to the Ghanaian capital.
Meanwhile, making his competitive return after an injury-hit four months, the man of the moment, 20-year-old Letsile looked in fine form as he cruised through his race, visibly easing off as he approached the finish line.
It marks the first tentative steps on a road that hopefully leads to Olympic glory in Paris in seven months time!