The joys of motherhood

Boitumelo Maswabi
ANOTHER GOODBYE: Travel is a big part of an athlete's lot

Catching up with Schoolboy’s mum

In the early hours of Monday morning (local time), sprint sensation, Letsile Tebogo, was at the heart of the men’s 4x400m relay team that stormed to victory at the World Athletics Relays in The Bahamas.

For the 20-year-old ‘schoolboy’, it marked the latest high in a record-breaking career that seems destined for the very top.

While the Kanye kid was cruising effortlessly around the track, back home, his mother, Seratiwa ‘Sthado-Same’ Tebogo, sat glued to her television set, nervously watching on as her boy did his thing.

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A big part of Letsile’s rise to glory, in the spirit of Mother’s Day (that’s this Sunday for all you husbands and children out there!), Voice Woman found it fitting to catch up with the doting mum for a quick chat…

Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about Letsile. What was he like as a child?

I am Seratiwa Tebogo, born and bred in Kanye but mostly schooled at various schools as I was staying with my eldest sister, who is a School Head.

I’m a mother-of-two and am in the corporate world.

Letsile has always been a hyperactive child.

I’d be chopping veggies and he’d be hiding under the table picking them then eating them raw.

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Bagolobatle ba re ngwana o a babega (Elders usually say such kids are itchy for some activity).

If you don’t mind me saying, you’re in excellent physical shape; it’s obvious Letsile inherited your good genes! Did you inspire him to go into sport?

We grew up in an extended family, and would walk to masimo every weekend, which is about 15km away from Kanye, to visit our parents.

I guess that’s where we got our fitness.

During my school years at Moeding College, go ne go pekelwa mo go nna (teams were built around me) – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay; it’s just that back then parents felt sports had no future.

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When did you notice he was gifted and had the competitive edge to succeed as a sprinter?

Like I mentioned earlier, Letsile has always been a hyperactive child.

He tried football, which he was also good at.

But to give other kids a chance at trials, he was benched most of the time, that didn’t sit well with him.

That was when he ventured into athletics while in primary school; he always outran his peers. He got into the national team at age of 12, where he represented the country at the BOPSSA in Namibia and brought home a silver medal in 200m.

I’d imagine he’s been on the road regularly since then – what was it like for you as a mom being separated from your boy for extended periods?

I travelled with him on some trips, like the Namibia one as well as Italy, Oregon – USA, and Budapest, Hungary.

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Yeah, it’s never easy being away from him for a long time but since he is always in the good hands of his Coach, Kebonyemodisa ‘Dose’ Mosimanyane, whom their bond has grown from coach to father, brother and friend, I’m always assured of his well-being.

He’s only 20, but Letsile has already achieved so much in his career, breaking records left, right and centre. What moments stand out for you?

There are many! But for him to be the first Motswana to raise the Blue, Black and White flag in short sprints in Kenya 2021 takes center stage, as does being the first Motswana man to medal at the World Championships last year, and breaking the 200m African Record, which stood for over 27 years.

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He always seems so calm before a race but, how about you, do you get nervous?

Ijaaaa! First, I pray for no false start.

Once off the blocks, I pray for no muscle pull; I only get to breathe once he crosses the finish line.

He’s been compared to the great Usain Bolt, for both his explosive speed and confidence; indeed the Jamaican himself recently commented on your son’s potential. How do you feel about that comparison?

Usain Bolt is an icon, who has no bad record; who wouldn’t be proud for their Black Prince being compared to him! But, he is Letsile, he doesn’t appreciate being called the ‘Bolt of Botswana’.

World Athletics has announced a US$50k pay-day for Olympic gold medallists. In the past, we’ve seen some athletes failing to manage wealth, how do you guard against this?

Luckily, Letsile has a strong team which manages his legal affairs, marketing, finances, etc.

We consult with him a lot on his desires and interests and he would be advised accordingly.

What personal sacrifices have you had to make as a mother, or as a family, concerning your son’s career?

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Putting my interests on hold and emptying my savings just to be with him… Note that our relationship is more than that of mother and son, we are more or brother and sister now – more so that, for the longest time, it was just me and him; his sister is nine years younger than him.

Tell us something interesting/unexpected about y (our) joy and pride?

He is just the boy next door.

You should see him at the cattlepost doing everything any Motswana child does.

Do you plan to travel to Paris for the Olympic Games?

Do you even have to ask! I’ll be travelling (to Paris) with his sister but, unfortunately, she has an exam in October.

What are your wishes for the lad’s future?

To remain humble.

Not for the world stage to in any way make him feel bigger than anyone.

And how do you plan to celebrate his 21st birthday (7th June) and Mother’s Day?

Unfortunately, he won’t be around, hence I gifted him with the LX-V8 Cruiser, which has always been his dream car.

Normally, wherever he is, they do a little session for him.

Motherhood is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days, therefore every day is a celebration!

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