Athletics: Tebogo, the new Bolt: from “sucking” the football bench to shine in athletics

EI new Usain Bolt in background and form. The 9.91 of Letsile Tebogo over 100 meters of the U20 World Cup in Cali (Colombia) they ended up fueling the comparison between the young athlete from Botswana (19 years old) with the world record holder and the icon of the hectometer.

This year Tebogo ran in under 10 seconds three times to set three consecutive U20 world records: 9.96, April 30 at the Gaborone International Rally in Botswana; 9.94, July 15 at the Eugene World Championship, and now 9.91 in the Colombian tartan. The comparisons to Bolt also come from his running style. In Cali allowed himself the luxury of finishing the semi-final with an eye on South African Benjamin Richardson. An image identical to that of Bolt and De Grasse in the Olympic semi-final in Rio. In the final he let himself go 30 meters from the finish, while looking at the Jamaican Bouwahjgie Nkrumie whom he was pointing at

The Tebogo’s admiration for Bolt marked his path in athletics. His meteoric rise in speed also puts his country, Botswana, in the spotlight. Nijel Amos, Olympic silver medalist at London 2012, appeared before. A few days before the World Cup in Eugene,was suspended after testing positive in out-of-competition testing. The 4×400 relay won bronze in Tokyo. One of its members was Isaac Makwala, from whom 17-year-old Tebogo snatched the national 100 record when he ran a 10.14 in 2021.

I want to change something in the country, do something different from other Botswana athletes, that’s why I chose to compete in the 100 and 200 meters“He said it a year ago when he was gold in the 100m at the Under-20 World Cup (10.19) and silver in the double hectometre (20.38).

Those 10.14s from 2021 were already the all-time best 100m record by a minor under 18 previously in the possession of American Anthony Swartz with 10.15 since March 31, 2017.

“The boy is very talented and ready for big challenges. I watched the boy from his early days in primary school and realized when we went to Namibia that he would be among the best athletes in Botswana. He has the legs and the power of a sprinter and his age favors him a lot to conquer the world“, predicted a year ago, Glody Dube, a former athlete from Botswana who shone in the 800m.

After his two medals at the Under-20 World Cup in Nairobi in 2021, comparisons to Bolt have become latent due to his running style. The long strides, the explosive start and that halo of smugness in the tartan. Tebogo never hid that it was the mirror in which he looked at himself. “I admire him, to everything I learned during my training I added what I knew about him, including his diet,” he admits. Born in Kanye (Botswana) in 2003, he was only five years old when his idol performed at the Beijing Games.

Tebogo: from football to athletics

The bone Letsile Tebogo’s sporting debut was tied to a ball. At the age of six he was already playing football. He also signed up for a track and field race. He immediately stood out for his speed. When the time came, he clearly knew which sport to choose. “In football, they always left me on the bench, which frustrated me. This motivated my decision to return to athletics, since I saw that it allowed me to put food on the table for my family,” he explained in an interview with Runblogrun.

Letsile Tebogo, at the Eugene World Championship / Getty Images

Letsile Tebogo, at the Eugene World Championship / Getty Images

At the Botswana Primary Schools Athletic Association Championships in 2016, he won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays, earning him his first call-up to the national team. He won bronze in the 200 meters and silver in the 4×100 in the South African Sports Schools competition. But noor it wasn’t until nearly three years later that he took athletics seriously“I didn’t pay much attention to it until around 2019 when I realized I could turn pro.”

Last year he was disappointed when he finished second in the 200m at the Under-20 World Cup. “It’s my favorite event. I know that if I hadn’t gone through three 100m events and two 200m events, I would have won. I plan to recover the title”, he underlined then. . Now, after the gold medal in the 100m, he has the possibility of also aiming for victory in the 200m in Cali. In the meantime, he longs to meet his idol Usain Bolt. No one doubts that day will come soon.

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