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The brains behind the brawn

The brains behind the brawn
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mogomotsi Otsetswe

Unassuming and modest, Mogomotsi Otsetswe is not one to boast about his achievements.

If he were the bragging type, the 56-year-old Mahalapye native would undoubtedly mention winning four consecutive Botswana National Commission (BNSC) Coach of the Year awards – the latest of which was this year.

In his position as Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Head Coach, Otsetswe is responsible for nurturing and motivating the country’s most talented athletes.

It is a role he has thrived at for over 20 years.

Having joined the association as a coach in 1995, Otsetswe has overseen the development of many of Botswana’s biggest sports stars.

His impressive list of protégés includes the likes of 2012 Olympic 800m silver medallist, Nijel Amos, former World 400m Champion, Amantle Montsho and three-time African 400m Champion, Isaac Makwala.

A former 800m runner, Otsetswe also doubles as a coach for the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), a position he took up in 2012.

At the start of the year, Otsetswe, who became an IAAF accredited coach in 1991, was offered a lucrative job abroad.

However, committed to what he is doing here, the patriotic coach turned down the opportunity of a lifetime for ‘the love of his country’.

Reflecting on the 2017 season, an upbeat Otsetswe told Voice Sport that although the national team did not win a single medal at the London World Championships in August, he was impressed by the performance of his athletes.

He stressed for a small country like Botswana, with a population of around two million, to have athletes reaching the finals of international events proves they are doing something right.

“This year we introduced ladies 4X4 relay team which qualified for the World Championships. Three women also qualified and that was our plan. For the first time our team comprised of 12 athletes for a major event and that was a great achievement. Our athletes are disciplined and dedicated to improving their careers,” said the man who is now a qualified IAAF coaching lecturer.

Otsetswe also praised the country’s Centre of Excellence for continually producing top class athletes, mentioning Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda as prime examples.

He revealed the association host out of school camps for athletes who failed to get into senior school.

The veteran described the current standard of international athletics as the highest it has ever been.

Despite the challenges they face, Otsetswe proudly noted that Botswana’s best athletes rank amongst the elite in the world.

‘We have talented athletes but the challenges we face is their welfare. Professional athletes need full time coaches, dieticians, proper accommodation, doctors and adequate facilities. In some countries, athletes have school syllabus which favours their calendar of events,’ he said, adding the national team were currently in camp preparing for next year’s Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Australia’s Gold Coast over the first week of April.

The athletes will go for Christmas break this Saturday, returning to camp on the 5th of January.

Otsetswe’s message to the athletes is that Christmas comes every year and being over excited might potentially ruin their future in a day.