The University of Botswana is honoured to celebrate two of its staff members who recently contributed to the success of Botswana men’s 4x400m relay team which scooped bronze at the just ended 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The duo, Mr Justice Dipeba and Ms Kagiso Tlhabano-David, accompanied Team Botswana as athletics team Head Coach and team psychologist, respectively.
Mr Dipeba is the Sports Officer in the Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation (Student Affairs), having joined the University in 2015. He is also UB Track and Field Club Head Coach. Mr Dipeba cut his teeth as an athletics coach in 2003 starting off as volunteer, going on to be assigned his first national duty the following year. Mrs Tlhabano-David is from the Department of Careers and Counselling(Student Affairs). She is also an official of the UB Boxing Club.
“UB has contributed enormously to my success. I was once a student there. UB has sent me to the major games particularly the World University Games, where I reached the finals in the 200m and set the national record. I was the first Motswana to run 200m under 21seconds” says Mr Dipeba.
By the time UB employed in 2015, Mr Dipeba says he was already part of the UB Community, having been a volunteer athletics team coach since 2008. “The University of Botswana has always supported me. It made it possible for me to succeed by providing the facilities to train the national athletes and by giving me time to serve in the national team when I got selected to lead the team to the major games. I am very thankful for the support, without it I think it was not going be easy to produce the results that you are witnessing now,” says Mr Dipeba.
Since then, it has been an amazing experience and growth for Mr Dipeba, and with his coaching proficiency he was now able to train athletes who could compete at major games such as the Olympics. Isaac Makwala who went to set the African record in the 400m twice, winning the Commonwealth Games, Africa Championships, All Africa Games and reaching the finals at the Olympic Games, is one of his protégés. In fact, the University of Botswana Stadium has been Makwala's training venue since 2013.
The Tokyo experience will remain dear to Mr Dipeba. “The team's performance was outstanding. We did not only win the bronze medal, we broke the African record in the relay, twice, and to coming to think of it, it took more than 20 years to break but it took us 24hrs. That is very special,” he added.
Besides volunteering personnel, the University of Botswana further played a critical role in the buildup towards this historic moment by hosting the Olympic bound team at its High-Performance Centre (HPC) for high performance testing. Sports codes that participated in the tests were volleyball, boxing, rugby and athletics.
Among the athletes were Amantle Montsho, Baboloki Thebe, Christine Botlogetswe and Nijel Amos. The HPC conducted the high-performance tests to gauge the athletes’ fitness levels based on international standards. The aim was to help the country enhance its performance at international meets. The HPC is housed at the UB Campus Indoor Sports Centre and is sufficiently equipped with modern facilities to conduct high level tests for both local and international athletes.