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Going the distance

Going the distance
Glody Dube

Dube gives back to young athletes

Retired Botswana middle distance runner who specialized in 800 metres race, Glody Dube was the first local athlete to reach the finals at the Olympics in Sydney in the year 2000.

The 39-year-old athlete from Matshelagabedi served as a Public Relations Officer for Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) and rose through the ranks to the position of Vice President Technical.

Last year, Dube registered Golden Door Sports Agency for athlete management.

On April 29th Dube will host the annual Gaborone International Meet (GIM), which has drawn the interest of athletes from as far as Europe and other 12 African countries who have already confirmed their participation.

The current world record holder, world champion and Olympic champion in the 400 metres Wayde van Niekerk and other local athletes like Baboloki Thebe, Amantle Montsho, Karabo Sibanda and Olympic Silver Medalist Nijel Amos are among athletes that are expected to participate in this meet.

Voice Reporter Portia Ngwako-Mlilo interviewed Dube about his decades spanning career and journey in athletics. They also discussed the international meet in detail.

Q. When did you discover your talent in athletics?

A. I started running when I was in form 1.

Before then I participated in various sport codes.

My interest in sports and extra curricula activities was fuelled by my interest in school trips.

I liked school trips so much that if I heard there were going to be traditional dance competitions, I would join a traditional dance group so that I could travel.

When I got to junior school however, I focused on athletics.

Our Scotland born athletics coach, Adam Letham recognised my talent and nurtured it until I qualified for major games.

He promised me that if I passed my Junior Certificate exams he would help me relocate from Francistown to live with with him in Maun.

That promise motivated me to work so hard in class that I passed with an A and indeed Latham fulfilled his promise.

In form 4 I went to represent the country in the Commonwealth games in Malaysia.

This was my first biggest competition ever and my introduction to the world as a serious athlete.

Q. How was your first major competition like?

A. It was challenging, the stage fright was terrible but I managed to reach the finals.

Botswana Athletics Association bought me running shoes but I couldn’t use them because I was used to running barefooted.

It was quite strange and other competitors were surprised but it did not bother me as my focus was on the race.

I finished in position 5.

Q. You got a scholarship to study at the University of Idaho in USA, why did you decide not to go?

A. By then Universities in the US did not allow students to be professional athletes so I decided not to go and chose to focus on athletics instead.

I concentrated on competing in different major games and making money.

I raised enough money to start my own businesses, investing in buying houses and turning them into guesthouses and hospitality facilities.

In 2008 I went back to school and enrolled at the University of Botswana to pursue Physical Education.

I then I realised I had made a wrong career move and decided to quit and pursue a teaching course at Tlokweng College of Education.

Teaching at primary level is very fulfilling because I can train athletes from an early stage as a way of giving back to my country.

Q. What can you say makes a good athlete?

A. Discipline is the most important thing.

Being an athlete is just like being a prince and the next in line for the throne.

You have to adhere to strict regimen and refrain from acting like an ordinary person.

You have to forfeit a lot of things. Your sleep habits have to change, your diet too as well as the way you manage your time.

We have cases of doping and our athletes need a lot of education because you can innocently dope from medication and not that you would be trying to enhance your performance.

Q. Athletics when you were active and athletics today. What is the difference?

A. Athletics is growing and our athletes are doing well in international events.

I made a living from athletics and you can make a million in few minutes.

That money is all yours unless you are in a relay team.

Today athletes are paid camping fees, they are endorsed by big brands and they make a lot of money from those deals, which was not the case back then with us.

They are also sent to high performance centres abroad unlike us.

I think it is high time we have proper facilities, have athletics stadium, which can host international games because the code has really grown.

Q. How did you start Gaborone International Meet?

A. It just occurred to me that I could host an international meet.

I started brainstorming the idea, putting my ducks in a row, doing research and in 2011 I started the meet.

When I started this event I sold one of my houses in Francistown because it was hard to find sponsors.

Last year I engaged other experts in events management and appointed them to be a Local Organising Committee for GIM.

This time I do not think I will spend as much as I did in the beginning because the organisers have managed to find sponsors.

The event has grown, we will be hosting athletes from other African countries and Europe.

Q. What does it require to host such major event?

A. There are certain requirements like prize money, which will be paid out in US Dollar.

There will be doping tests and the government through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development has endorsed the games as an annual event.

We are working with the mother body, Botswana National Sports Commission, Botswana Athletics Association and Gaborone City to pull of this sporting event together.

Q. Initially this event was known as Sports View International Meet why did you decide to rebrand it?

A. Sports View is a running club so I decided to change it to Gaborone International Meet so that Batswana can have a sense of ownership of the event.

After changing the name I got a lot of support from the city leadership and the ministry.

People started recognising it and it was not difficult to forge partnerships.

We have applied for International Association of Athletics Federations affiliation and they have endorsed us although they have not started funding the event and I think that is because we submitted most documents late.

Next year we hope to be part of their calendar of events.

Q. How do you think the event will benefit Botswana?

A. Most importantly this event will benefit participants, athletes.

The meet will be used as a qualifier for major games.

This is like the Diamond League. It can also be used to boost sports tourism as countries send their athletes here and some have already shown interest in visiting our tourism destinations like Kasane and Maun.

Already they have booked hotels, the transport providers will also benefit and small businesses that will sell goods outside the stadium too.

Q. What are some of the challenges you encounter as you prepare for GIM?

A. I had financial challenges and I was lucky because my wife, Amogelang is very supportive to an extent that she allowed me to sell our house.

It is also difficult to find people who can volunteer to help with preparations because they want to be paid yet we do not have enough funds.

I cover all the travel and accommodation expenses for all athletes that will be participating in this meet and some are from as far as Europe.

Our budget for the whole event stands at about P1.3 million.

Q. In 2016 you decided to quit Botswana Athletics Association Vice President position, what was the reason behind that?

A. It was because of GIM. I was conflicted and it was difficult to make some decisions so I decided to quit and focus on the event.

We once had an argument whereby some Executive Committee Members were questioning the ethics behind being allowed to run such competition while I was part of the leadership.

Q. What advice can you give to young and upcoming athletes?

A. Athletics is an unpredictable and often short-lived career.

You can be good for a year, get injured and your career might come to an abrupt end.

It is therefore very important for athletes to invest the money they make in competitions wisely.

Invest in something that does not have many risks like property rather than buying expensive cars.

Most of those cars are not ensured, you buy it for half a million pula and the next day you are involved an accident and that’s the end of your money.

Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

A. I will be spending time at home with my wife and kids.