Baboloki Thebe - Botswana’s rising star

Five years ago no one ever thought that Botswana’s budding athlete Baboloki Thebe will be a house hold name.

Even after he performed creditably well at the 2nd Africa Youth Games in 2014, scooping a gold medal in 200m and a bronze in the 100m, nothing much was said about him.

But the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics 200m silver medallist remained patient, humble and worked very hard in silence.

Baboloki Thebe, who is now a well-known 100 and 200m specialist in Botswana, pulled a very big surprise by qualifying for Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the 400 metres race during the Private Tertiary Institutions Association athletics championship held at the University of Botswana in March.

He clocked 45.23 seconds beating 400m specialists Isaac Makwala who recorded 45.58, and Samoa 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist Karabo Sibanda who finished in third place with 46.32.

On Saturday (21 May) he once again proved that his qualification for Rio was not a fluke as when he shattered his own PB by clocking 44.22 seconds at the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) national championships.

In second position was Sibanda who recorded 45.20 in the event qualifying for Rio Olympics, while veteran Leaname Maotoanong was third in 46.32.

Baboloki Thebe - Botswana’s rising athletics star

Baboloki Thebe - Botswana’s rising athletics star

The 19-year-old sprinter, shocked the nation on Sunday (22 May) when he qualified for Rio in the 200m with 20.21 barely 24 hours after clocking an impressive time in 400m.

In an interview after the race, Thebe said he was happy to have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in two different events.

"Remember since Botswana started to participate in Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 no athlete has qualified in more than one event, so I am happy that I am one of the athletes that managed to break that myth," he said.

He said his intention was to run a faster time during the 20th Africa Senior Championships to be staged in Durban in three weeks time.

“I still believe I can record quality times in both 200 and 400 metres, but I need to work very hard, as you know nothing comes easy in life,” he added.

Baboloki Thebe was part of 4x400m men relay team that scooped the first position in 3:02.29 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting held in Doha on 6 May.