• Already preparing for Commonwealth 2022 games
Weightlifting star, Magdeline Moyengwa (20), made headlines last week after rankings released by the World Weightlifting Federation declared her number one in Africa in the 59kg category.
Moyengwa says she joined weightlifting because she wanted to do something unique from her peers. She also wanted to show other women that it is not just a sport for men, she explained. “I wanted to dispel the myth that we as women cannot do what men can,” she added.
According to the 20-year-old who hails from Shashe village, weightlifting teaches individuals how to be determined on what they want, is a source of discipline and focus but most importantly is centered around physical and mental fitness. She further believes in the growth of the sport suggesting that the weightlifting federation should have trips to different schools teaching young girls and boys about the sport or organizing Olympic celebratory events in different places.
A champion in her own right, Moyengwa is ecstatic on her qualification which was fueled by her passion for weightlifting. The only challenge for her is the struggle to maintain the weight because the technicality of the sport lies in her remaining at 59 kg. “If I surpass my current weight, I will be disqualified,” she explained. With a warrior spirit embedded in her, the young athlete is confident in her skills and hopes to make it to the podium at the upcoming Olympics.
According to her coach Alex Rankgwe weightlifting has just qualified for Tokyo 2020 for the first time since inception and Moyengwa is the very first woman weightlifter from Botswana. “The International Weightlifting Federation posted the rankings last week Friday and we saw them online as we have been eagerly waiting for them. We are both happy and excited as we really worked hard to get to where we are, it was not easy,” said an elated Rankgwe, however, lamenting that they are struggling financially but are forging ahead with developing weightlifting as a sport.
“We have some resources to use but not enough for preparations so we'll discuss with the Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) to assist in this regard as they have been assisting,” said Rankgwe.
Good things have come for the passionate coach as he was recently voted as the Chairman of the African Coaches & Research Committee at the just ended continental Weightlifting annual general meeting. Rankgwe believes this is a blessing to the growing federation which needs all the support it can get. “We can use all the necessary support from our President, Brigadier Joseph Mathambo and his executive committee,” said Rankgwe, revealing that they are currently training to prepare for the qualifiers of the Commonwealth 2022 games but do not have the right budget. According to Rankgwe their budget is very tight and they keep approaching companies but to no avail. They are hopeful that the secretariat is doing all they can to assist although it’s dragging more so that the qualifiers have already started.
Weightlifting is an Olympic sport that competes on two techniques, which are snatch and clean and jerk. The former involves weight being lifted from the ground to above the head while the latter is the art of lifting the weight to the shoulder level and proceeding to press it above head level. Weightlifting started in 2014 when Botswana hosted the youth games and while they are mostly based in Gaborone there are hopes of expanding to other areas. However, Rankgwe’s interest in the sport dates back early 2010 during his body building days. A gym fanatic at heart, he was co-opted by the body building federation to join them where he worked his way up the ranks to where he is now.
“I have been involved in sports my entire life originally with softball where I ended up being a coach before drifting to weightlifting. I then trained with a few guys for position of coach in preparation for the development of weightlifting in Botswana,” he added.
Rankgwe trains all levels of athletes, youth senior and junior. Weightlifting is affiliated with the BNOC, BNSC, Commonwealth, African Federation and International Federation. “The reception in Botswana is very slow as parents and the public do not fully understand the sport,” he mentioned. He mentioned additionally that despite the slow reception, they are trying to sell the sport in schools especially those near their training area because weightlifting requires specialized equipment.
On the thorny issue of funding, newly appointed Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho said there could be a misunderstanding because as far as he is aware, Moyengwa is fully covered. “It is the duty of the BNOC with regards to resources for the Olympics and Botswana government has made provision for her the same way it has for other athletes. Of course, MYSC provides funds although it may not always be enough, MYSC also needs support from the private sector. In terms of general development of the sport, it is something we will look into,” said Serufho, adding that he was not at liberty to divulge any specific details before next week when allocations for national sports associations are made.
Earlier, BNOC Business Development and Strategy Manager, Baboni Kupe explained that annual grants for national associations come from BNSC, who are responsible for disbursing the funds received from government. “For Tokyo 2020, the programme the athletes have been on is fully funded by government,” she said.