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Home Sports Letsile Tebogo: Teenage sprinter wants to be remembered as an athletics great

Letsile Tebogo: Teenage sprinter wants to be remembered as an athletics great


Within the hours earlier than he coils himself into the beginning blocks – a time when many sprinters could be fraught with nerves and stress – Letsile Tebogo finds solace within the soundtracks of dwelling.

“More often than not, I simply take heed to music – conventional songs from right here in Botswana as a result of they remind me of my roots and the place I come from,” says Tebogo. “It’s a lot simpler for me to loosen up that means.”

That pre-race ritual seems to serve him properly. Even in full flight on an athletics monitor, the 19-year-old is an image of composure; his lengthy, floating stride and simple operating kind guiding him to file instances on the junior circuit.

Tebogo twice broke the Beneath-20 world file for 100 meters earlier this yr – first together with his time of 9.94 seconds on the World Championships, then a number of weeks later when he ran 9.91 seconds on the U20 World Championships.

His first file was formally confirmed by World Athletics on September 20, whereas his second time remains to be pending ratification.

Among the many secrets and techniques to each performances, Tebogo says, was a capability to place apart any lingering anxieties earlier than stepping onto the monitor.

“Psychological power is essential,” he tells CNN Sport. “You simply want to come back with a free thoughts and benefit from the race as a result of, after getting stress, you can’t run the proper race you and your coach deliberate.

“You should come free-minded … Take away every part that’s in your thoughts that’s going to be disturbing you on the blocks or once you’re doing all of your warmup.”

Tebogo clocked a 100-meter time of 9.94 seconds at the World Championships this year.

READ: Africa’s fastest man Ferdinand Omanyala races to make Kenya a ‘sprinting nation’

Tebogo’s assertion efficiency at this yr’s U20 World Championships in Cali, Colombia, established him as probably the most thrilling prospects in monitor and subject – not solely due to the benefit with which he appeared to tug away from the opposite rivals, but additionally due to his untimely celebrations 30 meters from the end line.

As he gestured to his proper aspect and wagged his finger in delight, Tebogo immediately turned the discuss of the athletics world.

“I simply determined to do this within the second after I was operating,” he says. “I wished it to be a memorable race for me as I depart the juniors.

“I didn’t imply to disrespect anybody on the monitor … It’s important to do one thing for individuals who are staying up at night time to look at you – one thing to speak about tomorrow or within the close to future.”

The celebration sparked comparisons to the good Usain Bolt, who, stuffed with confidence and bravado, would grin and unfold his arms earlier than crossing the end line – even whereas setting world information.

The Jamaican’s legacy nonetheless looms massive over athletics, that means onlookers are sometimes fast to label an rising dash star as his predecessor.

However Tebogo admits he hasn’t even thought of breaking his idol’s world information – 9.58 for 100m and 19.19 for 200m.

The younger sprinter is hopeful the 2 can meet sooner or later – maybe at subsequent yr’s World Championships in Budapest, Hungary – however for now, he could be reassured by the truth that Bolt has watched him race – and acknowledged it on Twitter.

“His instances are very quick,” says Tebogo. “It requires that one needs to be mentally sturdy and every part needs to be in prime form, every part needs to be prime notch.”

Rising up in Botswana, Tebogo was a proficient footballer and solely began taking sprinting severely in his mid-teens when he realized he may have a profession within the sport.

Whereas his under-20 information have come within the 100m, he additionally races the 200m and completed second to Israel’s Blessing Afrifah by six thousandths of a second at this yr’s Junior World Championships.

Working side-by-side on the house straight, the pair set a brand new championship file of 19.96 seconds – a time that places them joint third behind Bolt and Erriyon Knighton within the under-20 all-time listing.

Knighton, like Tebogo, seems to be to be a star for the longer term. The 18-year-old has run the eight quickest 200m instances of any under-20 athlete, whereas his private better of 19.49 seconds, set in April, locations him tenth on the senior all-time listing.

Knighton races in the 200 meter final at last year's Tokyo Olympics.

“It brings lots of motivation for me to return and work tougher on the method,” Tebogo, who completed 0.02 seconds forward of Knighton when the pair raced over 100m earlier this yr, mentioned in regards to the achievements of his American rival. “It’s going to be an excellent run between me and him sooner or later.”

Tebogo has but to determine whether or not he’ll focus extra on the 100m or 200m sooner or later. He’s planning to begin on the College of Oregon – basing his coaching exterior of Botswana for the primary time – in March and also will make the step up from junior to senior racing subsequent yr.

“What I’ve seen is that for the juniors, once they see me, they’re intimidated by me, however with the seniors, it’s the opposite means round – they’re those who’re intimidating me,” he says. “However with time, I assume I’ll be cool and arising very properly with them.”

After a number of weeks of relaxation following the tip of the season, Tebogo resumed coaching on October 1.

He expects a grueling first six weeks earlier than he will get again to the extent he was eventually season, however then he can start to ponder what he desires to attain in his first season as a senior athlete.

“The final word aim after I began athletics was to be remembered, like how Usain Bolt is all the time remembered,” says Tebogo.

“Even when I’m the second quickest man on the earth, it’s nonetheless tremendous. So long as I’m within the prime three of the world’s quickest guys – that’s what I’ll be actually comfortable for.”

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