Tough going in Senegal for Botswana’s Beach Wrestlers

Christinah Motlhabane
BEACH WARRIORS: Basupi and Kulube

It was a baptism of fire for Botswana’s beach wrestlers in Senegal last weekend, as the country took part in the African Championships for the first time.

Considering the sport was only introduced locally at the start of the year, being present at the continental competition was an achievement in itself for the duo of Kelebohile Basupi and Meshack Kulube.

Up against more experienced athletes, the determined newbies showed great heart, battling bravely in the sandy beaches of Dakar.

Although both missed out on the quarterfinals, losing all three of their qualifying bouts, they were competitive throughout, doing well to avoid a straight knock-out.

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Wrestling in the men’s U/80kg category, Kulube had the misfortune of coming up against the top ranked athlete from Senegal in his first match.

While he found the going tough, the 26-year-old refused to be bullied, making sure the fight lasted its full three-minute duration.

Insisting this was something to be proud of, Botswana Wrestling Federation President, Moagi Sharp, told Voice Sport, “We managed to endure even though Senegal, who are the powerhouse of Beach Wrestling, were very tough.

“In round two he faced Guinea Bissau, who were also very strong. Still, he managed to proceed to round three where he was given Senegal once again and it was another difficult match. Unfortunately, we couldn’t proceed to the quarterfinals because of our low points,” said Sharp, who accompanied the two wrestlers to the competition.

In the end, Kulube finished 24th out of 32 wrestlers.

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His compatriot, Basupi, 37, fared slightly better, managing 21st place.

“She started her bout with a strong opponent from Sierra Leone, who was very gigantic and towering over her. Basupi did well to prevent her opponent from getting three points, which counts as a knockout and would have ended her participation in the competition,” explained Sharp, who doubles as the duo’s coach.

Basupi was much improved in her second bout, pushing her South African opponent all the way in a narrow loss. In her third fight, Basupi once again took on the Sierra Leone wrestler, showing terrific resilience to avoid the knockout.

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“Other countries fielded many wrestlers but, on our side, we fielded only two wrestlers because we were not assisted by the country to attend this event. Overall, I’m impressed by their performance,” said Sharp, who also attended the Beach Wrestling Coaches and Referees Course.

“I passed the exam and was awarded certificate by United World Wrestling. Now, I want to organise Coaching and Referees clinics to share the knowledge I got in Senegal.”

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