The Botswana Judo Federation (BJF) is confident that two of its athletes currently on camp will qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The two junior athletes currently on camp in Tunisia are Gavin Mogopa (under 60kg) and Thato Lebang (under 73kg). Speaking to BG Sport recently, BJF president Estony Pridgeon said the two athletes are preparing well before they compete at the African Judo championships in Tunisia on 9th April.
“The tournament will act as the 2016 Olympic qualifiers,” she said. Pridgeon said the two athletes are training under a coach sponsored by the International Judo Federation (IJF). “The two athletes both 19 years old have been on training camp since 16 November. The camp included a stay at the Tokai University in Japan. They later competed in the IJF Grand slam Tokyo 2015 before attending an international training camp at Kodokan.”
Pridgeon added that this would be the first time BJF attempts to qualify for the Olympics where they will join runners Isaac Makwala, Nijel Amos and Naomi Ruele of swimming. Nevertheless Pridgeon said they previously competed in the Youth Olympic Games. Currently Lebang is 13th in Africa and 150th in the world while Mogopa is currently 138th in the international rankings.
Our chances for qualifying for the Olympic Games are very good. It must be noted that the plan was set up for the two athletes in order to give them exposure to high-level competition and training.” The Botswana National Olympic Committee, Botswana National Sports Commission and the IJF have assisted the judokas with funding to qualify for the Olympics.