Botswana Judo Federation took 38 athletes to compete in the annual South African Championships in Port Elizabeth. The spokesperson for the federation Patricia Nthibo stated that their youngest athlete was 11 year old Joseph Pelotsame who managed to get a gold medal even though it was his second time participating in that competition.
She said in his first competition last year at 10 years old Pelotsame managed a bronze medal, and him getting gold this time around shows how he has grown in a year and how competitions of that calibre helps them. She noted that this year they increased the number of athletes that they took to the competition because they want to groom young Botswana Judokas for the international competitions that they will take part in.“The competition helps the children to get exposure and we take the younger ones along so that they can feel the stage. We want them to grow and to get used to a bigger platform which cannot be offered by competitions locally,” Nthibo said.
Other gold medallists alongside Pelotsame were Tlotlo Pigelo, Trish Baraedi, Tshephang Lephalalo, Godiraone Kapeko and Lesedi Bewley. To top that the athletes got five silver medals and seven bronze medals. Nthibo said this is a vast improvement in reference to medal count since just last year they managed to get only 11 medals from the same competition. “We had 38 athletes, who participated in this competition, and to come out with this medal count in a very stiff competition like that one is worth celebrating, and this should be something that should boost our local judokas in preparation for other major competitions.”
Nthibo said it is not only medals that they got but other participants performed better and managed to scoop fourth position. The federations’ Limpho Chakela stated that though the competition was very difficult their team fought with everything since they went there with a mission not to retreat or surrender. “We were competing against seasoned judokas like South Africa, Canada, Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia among others but our team really held tight,” Chakela stated.
He noted that the only hiccup that they had when they got to South Africa was that some of the kids were overweight thus resulting in some fighting upper levels, which did put them at a disadvantage while others did not fight at all. Nonetheless he noted that though there were some kids who ended up fighting upper levels because of weight, some of those kids fought well to make sure that they don’t disappoint, hinting a good example of a kid who ended up fighting in an upper level but still managed to get a silver medal.
On why the weigh in problems, Chakela said the kids have the pre-weigh in a day before and later the actual weigh-in in the evening that will determine which category the kids will fall into, but if they can gain weight before the fight, that then becomes a problem that is both hurting to the kids and even to the federation since money and resources would have been spent on somebody who because of weight then becomes unable to represent the country.“We always talk to the kids about diet control and make them realise how what they eat can jeopardise their chances of representing the nation in the last minute. So we always involve parents to help us in this even though sometimes we know that it is us who contribute to this especially when we go for long trips like when we went to Port Elizabeth. The kids ate a lot on the way and this might have contributed to their weight gain,” Chakela said.
Botswana Judo Federation highlighted that they will continue to strive in representing Botswana well even in the commonwealth games in Scotland where Botswana will be represented in the sport, and that they will also continue to prepare harder for the SCSA competitions by end of 2014.