Jele: Superstar in the making

SHARE   |   Monday, 25 April 2016   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang
Getting ready for Rio Olympics;Jele Getting ready for Rio Olympics;Jele PIC: RICARDO KANONO

To some she is just a little known athlete, however to the athletics family Lidia Jele is a star in the making. Her recent qualification has come as no surprise to them. Most of them feel with her current performance Jele is on her way to stardom. They even believe that she will follow the footsteps of former 400m women world Champion Amantle Montsho and fly the flag of this nation high. Her coach Justice Dipeba could not stop talking about Jele’s potential. To him, Jele is ready to be the next Montsho. “When comparing the two’s times at the same age you will realise that they did just roughly the same times. If Jele continues to work hard she will go places,” said Dipeba. However, the coach said reaching her full potential will depend on how well she is taken care of by the Botswana athletic Association (BAA). Currently Jele trains once a day and Dipeba believes that if she can get to a high performance centre she will do wonders. He spoke highly of Jele, saying she is working hard to improve her performance every day.

To Dipeba, her current qualification to the 2016 Rio Olympics had not come as a surprise. Dipeba has been working with her for the past six years now. She has been part of the national athletics team since 2010. She was in the 4*4 women’s relay team that went to the Delhi Commonwealth Games the same year. “Jele has been doing well in the women 4*4 relay over the years. It is only that she has been overshadowed by the stardom of Montsho during her times,” said Dipeba.  He said Jele only have to work on maintaining proper form of running. “She has got the speed but she has been unable to maintain it to the finish because she does not maintain a proper form of running,” noted Dipeba. He, nonetheless, said they are currently working on it every day and results are beginning to show. The race she qualified through has been cited as an example that there is an improvement. He is adamant that the athlete will soon master the technique and will be in a very good shape to compete with any athlete.     
Jele and Athletics 
Athletics has been Jele’s passion from a very young age. She loved running right from her primary schools days until this day. According to her, it all started as a passion to run but gradually developed into a career as she progressed. “I just loved running since I was at primary through to senior school where now I was selected into the national team,” said Jele. It was when she was at the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) that the talent and potential in her was realised by coach Dipeba. Following her encounter with Dipeba, Jele revealed that she appreciated athletics even more. The Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) graduate now says at the moment she takes athletics as her career.  “This is why I have decided not to look for work after finishing at school so that I concentrate on athletics”.  

Olympics & preparations
With her qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics Jele now has to work even hard to make sure that she goes to the Olympics in the right shape. She is happy with the way the preparations are going so far. The athletes are taken to competitions to hone their techniques prior the Olympics. Just last week the team took part at the ASA Night Series at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Even though they did not do very well Dipeba said it is a training they needed before the Olympics. He emphasised the need for athletes to compete more ahead of the big competition. The coach is also happy with the way preparations are going since athletes are accorded the chance to take part in regional competitions. He said since Jele’s 51.50 seconds qualification time, there have been overflowing requests from Europe for her to participate in competitions. Dipeba said they are looking at scheduling her to attend the competitions without putting her at a risk of getting drained out. “It is essential for an athlete to compete in preparation for such big competitions but they have to be wary of not getting over worked. It takes a lot for an athlete to run their best time. It drains them and it takes a long time to recover so we have to be careful,” he said.    

Coach’s expectations
In Justice Dipeba the athletes have a very good coach who knows what he is doing. A retired short distance runner who represented the country at the highest level of Olympics, it is understandable why the athletes happy with him and follow his instructions very well. He expects his athletes to do very well at the Olympics. He has managed to help improve Isaac Makwala’s performance and believes that all others that he trains will do well. “They know my expectations are very high and that I want them to beat their own personal best times. It is not going to be easy at the Olympics but I am confident that they will do very well nonetheless,” said Dipeba.
Going forward 
However, Dipeba is of the view that the athletes can do much better than they are doing currently if proper facilities were put in place for them. He said the reason why Amantle Montsho did very well was that she spent most of her time at a high performance centre honing her skills. “I am telling you if more of the athletes were based in these high performance centres Botswana will become a hub of athletics,” said Dipeba. He said if they can do what they are currently doing while they train her at home then in high performance centres they will do even better. Dipeba called for the setting up of high performance centre locally to have athletes train at home. This, he said, will enable more athletes to be developed at a time.