Three years ago Tsebo Botsane (TuksSport High School) would give any swimming pool a wide birth – and with good reason as she could not swim.
Sure, she could stay afloat with a form of doggy paddling, but it could hardly be called swimming’ However, a lot can change in three years, especially if somebody commits to a specific goal.
Botsane made local triathlon history at the recent Continental Cup meeting in Troutbeck, Zimbabwe when she raced to a second place finish in her age category.
It would seem to be the first time that a black South African triathlete has medalled at an international meeting. But if the Grade 10 learner has her way, it won’t be the last’. She also has set her sights on winning a medal at the South African Triathlon Championships in Bloemfontein.
She admits that it’s going to be tough, but she is not giving up without a fight and is on a mission to prove that there is no such a thing as a sport where white athletes excel or vice versa.
‘A lot of my friends are scared to participate in triathlons because they cannot swim,’ she says. ‘I want to prove that anybody can do any sport as long as they are prepared to seriously commit to hard training and not be fazed if they fail at first.
‘It might sound a bit arrogant, but I want to become a role model in female sport. I know a lot of hard work still awaits me, but if I can stay focused I think there’s a real chance that I can get to represent South Africa at an Olympic Games’.
It should not be a surprise that Botsane is a massive fan of Richard Murray’s exploits in international triathlon events. It’s not only because he proved that with the right attitude the world’s best could be beaten but the fact that two-time Olympian Murray is also not known for his swimming prowess. It’s something he continually needs to work hard at, and the TuksSport High School learner can relate to it.
At the Continental Cup- ace, her swimming was not too bad. She was about the fourth athlete out of the water and it was during the cycling leg that she suffered.
She blames it on the hilly course but luckily she did not lose her focus and fought back well during the run to ensure a podium finish.
Kate Roberts, a former Olympian, coaches Botsane. She has been predicting for a while now that Botsane could become a trailblazer in South African triathlon.
‘Tsebo has got that something special as an athlete and that excites me. My challenge is to make sure that she gets to fulfil her real potential but with her passion and dedication, that’s easy.
‘What also helps is that she is a quick learner and hungry to succeed’.
Picture of Botsane and Roberts courtesy of Reg Caldecott