Sports person of the year awarded to Leungo Scotch

Portia Mlilo
WINNING BIG: Leungo Scotch awarded Sports Person of the year

Leungo Scotch recently won big at the 40th Botswana Sports Awards, clinching Male Sports Person of the year, National Team of the year 4X4 relay and Sports Person of the year awards.

The 24-year-old Kareng born sprinter went home over P100 000 on the award night.

Sports person of the year awarded to Leungo Scotch
AFRICA CHAMPION: Scotch after winning 400m race at the Africa Games

Scotch shot to fame in his first major competition last year in Morocco when he won gold in 400m race and bagged another gold in the relay team during the Africa Games.

Although he missed the qualifying time of 4.49 for the Olympics, the young athlete set a new personal best of 45.27s to become Africa 400m champion.

He also qualified for the World Championships where he made his debut and finished in the semifinals.

The 400m specialist earned his position in the national team in 2018 when he won the Gaborone International Meet.

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In 2014 when he was doing form three in Ngami Junior Secondary School in Sehithwa, Scotch qualified for the World Junior Championships held in the United States of America.

He was also part of the 4x4m relay team that brought home a bronze medal.

Sports person of the year awarded to Leungo Scotch
TEAM OF THE YEAR: 4X400M athletics team

Our reporter Portia Mlilo had a chat with this Africa Champion about his recent achievement and future plans for his athletics career.

Q. You recently won big at the Botswana Sports Awards, how do you feel about it?

A. I was lost for words.

2019 was a great year for me and I did my best but I never thought I would win the prestigious Sports Person Of The Year.

I was shocked and surprised.

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Indeed hard work pays.

I was very excited.

This is a great achievement, which will boost my confidence as I prepare for the next season.

Q. Fame can change people’s behaviour, what are you going to do to ensure that you remain focused?

A. I am not famous.

Hahaha! Nothing has changed really; I am just that ordinary boy from Kareng village near Maun.

I think I am surrounded by people who care about me and give me the best advice so I am still focused on building my career.

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I am far from being a celebrity.

Q. Have you made plans on how you are going to spend the money?

A. I haven’t decided yet because I do not want to rush into doing things that I would regret later.

Like I said I still have to seek advice from my coaches, Meleko Ndolo and Kebonyemodisa Dose Mosimanyane.

I have to invest it for a better future.

My girlfriend Otlampoloka Setlhare is also advising me not to let this achievement ruin my career.

Q. What came into your mind when you reached the finish line in the first position in Morocco during Africa Games?

A. I thought of my late father Kebontshitswe Ditshuma.

He played football but respected my decision to join athletics.

He was my number one fan and used to watch me running during competitions.

That was great motivation because I always wanted to make him proud.

I wished he were still alive to see me progressing well in athletics.

I was emotional and shed a tear.

He must be proud of me. Rest in Peace Papa.

Q. Oooh no, sorry about that. He is resting. When did you join athletics and what made you choose it over other sporting codes?

A. I joined athletics when I was at Kareng primary school in standard three during school sports competition.

My first athletics coach was Mma Gobotsamang at primary school.

I also played football until junior school when I decided to focus on athletics.

My coach at Ngami Junior School was Innocent Sibanda whom I was assigned to through the talent identification programme.

Q. When was your turning point in your athletics career?

A. I think when I qualified for the World Junior Championships held in the US.

That was when I started taking this sport seriously and realised I can earn a living from it.

The trip changed my mindset and I began to treat it as a career, not just sport.

Q. What was your worst experience in athletics?

A. It was last year during IAAF World Championship in Doha when our 4X400m team was disqualified for flouting baton exchange rules.

It cost us a place in the final and a chance to qualify for the Olympics.

The rule is that all takeover athletes are not permitted to begin running outside their takeover zones and should start within the zone.

It was alleged that I overstepped the beginning of exchange zone when receiving the baton from Nkobolo, hence the disqualification.

Eish, I do not want to think of that day.

That was very bad and our heads were aching.

I just felt I had failed my country and disappointed Batswana.

I was so disappointed but I guess we learnt something from the mistake and it will never be repeated.

Sports person of the year awarded to Leungo Scotch
AFRICA CHAMPION: Scotch after winning 400m race at the Africa Games

Q. What do you enjoy most about this sport?

A. Not that I do not like teamwork, but I enjoy athletics because it is an individual sport.

When you do not perform, you have no one to blame but yourself.

When you win the prize, you enjoy it alone.

I also enjoy being part of the 4x400m team.

We make a great team.

It is unfortunate that one of us, Onkabetse Nkobolo was involved in a car accident but he will bounce back and I wish him a speedy recovery.

Q. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

A. I brush my teeth, bath and eat breakfast then I go for training.

I make sure I train everyday even during the off-season. This is my life.

Q. Do you have an eating plan, what do you avoid eating?

A. We do not have a dietitian but our coach assists with the eating plan.

The diet includes moderate amounts of protein like fish, red meat and poultry.

I make sure I avoid junk food and eat home-cooked meals.

I also eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to ensure sufficient energy, body function and muscle repair.

An athlete should always be careful of where he eats and what he eats to avoid being accused of doping.

Q. What advice can you give to those aspiring to be professional athletes?

A. Be dedicated, focused and determined.

You should always listen and use your coach’s instructions wisely.

Do not drink alcohol and use drugs.

You have to be very disciplined otherwise your career would be cut short or not even take off at all.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. I am inspired by a few people locally and internationally.

Nijel Amos, Amantle Montsho and Isaac Makwala inspire me.

These are the athletes that I look up to and I think they have achieved a lot through athletics and I always ask for their advice when I get stuck.

South African track and field sprinter who competes in the 200 and 400 metres races, Wayde van Niekerk, also inspires me.

He is the current 400m world and Olympic record holder, and Olympic champion.

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

A. I am preparing for the Olympic qualifiers, which start in January.

I have a lot of work to do in terms of training after being disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

I will be training.

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