*Female participation at an all time high for Team BW at Tokyo 2020
When the biggest event sports has to offer, The Olympic Games, gets under way later today, Botswana will be the 147th nation to enter Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.
Hoisting the country’s flag up high for the second time in her storied career, Amantle Montsho will lead Team BW around the arena.
The first time the 38-year-old 400m legend was handed the honour, at London 2012, she was Botswana’s sole female representative. This time, however, Montsho is joined by four other female athletes: fellow runners, Christine Botlogetswe and Galefele Moroko as well as boxing’s Keamogetse Kenosi and weightlifter, Magdeline Moyengwa.
Indeed, the ‘fantastic five’ represent a significant milestone for local sports as it is the highest number of female competitors Botswana has ever assembled for an Olympics, beating the three we managed at Rio 2016.
For former World Champion, Montsho it marks the latest piece of history in her impressive Olympic portfolio. At Athens in 2004, the Maun-born runner became the first lady to represent Botswana at the showpiece sporting spectacle.
Four years later, at Beijing 2008, the female ranks were given a boost as Montsho was joined by freestyle swimmer, Samantha Paxinos, who received the honour of becoming the first woman to carry the nation’s flag at an opening ceremony.
It was the Montsho solo show again in 2012 before Lydia Jele, Naomi Ruele and Botlogetswe took female representation to a then-new high in Brazil. That record will be blown away in Japan.
Reflecting on the boundary-breaking achievement, Women and Sports Botswana (WASBO) spokesperson, Thulaganyo Retshabile, believes it marks the start of a new era for women in sport
“We are excited at the new change in the status quo; women participation is paramount for WASBO. The rising number of women participation attributes to our objective to see that there is an increase in the number of girl-child and women in elite sport and this is being realised,” Retshabile tells Voice Sport.
As part of their efforts to increase female participation in sport, WASBO runs numerous campaigns, including mentorship programmes and Women in Sports Pitsos. The aim is to come up with resolutions for the development and growth of women and the girl-child in sport, both on the field of play and at administrative level.
WASBO were also instrumental in introducing a special award at the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) Awards to recognize individuals and organisations who support women in sport.