The Special Olympics team that represented the country at the just ended Games in Los Angeles, USA won 20 medals – four gold, 10 silver medals and six bronze medals. Special Olympics Botswana had sent 47 athletes to represent the country in football, swimming, athletics and both volleyball men and women teams. All the teams put up sterling performances to finish up on the podium position except the football team that was eliminated in the quarterfinal stages. The swimming team scooped two gold medals, three silvers and two bronzes. Athletics won two gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals. Volleyball ladies and men both settled for a silver medal each.
The team’s head of delegation, who is also president of Special Olympics Botswana, Ross Tebele applauded the team for its sterling performance that saw an improvement in medal count from the last games four years ago. Tebele, who always complain of lack of support for his team, has this time showed satisfaction with the support they got. “It is the first time since we started taking part at these games that we received this adequate support. The team was comfortable as they were well sponsored,” said Tebele. He called on companies to keep the good work so that the athletes can perform even more in the coming years. Tebele said though competition was very tough at the Olympics, the players and coaches’ determination was extraordinary.
The other challenge that Tebele outlined was the shortage of substitutes for the volleyball team. “The players had to play all the 12 games without changes and we were very lucky that no one got injured as it could have resulted in us having to forfeit the matches,” he explained. When welcoming athletes back home, the Minister of Education and Skills Development Unity Dow said the achievement of the team was a result of team work and collaboration among all stakeholders involved. Dow promised Special Olympic Botswana that her door is forever open to discuss options of how to work effectively together to produce more athletes.
She congratulated the athletes for their good performance and the potential they have shown. “I have reason to believe that competing at these games was more than just winning medals but an opportunity for all of you to demonstrate that you are also capable of doing great in sport, she said.
The Special Olympic team is made up of intellectually disabled athletes. Botswana National Sport Commission chairperson Solly Reikeletseng confirmed that his organisation is doing all it can to support Special Olympics Botswana. He said they are currently in talks with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development on how best they can work together to develop sport locally and this includes the Special Olympics teams.