‘Schoolboy’s’ record-breaking heroics throwback to Jamaican legend
On a hot, humid Tuesday night in Cali, Colombia, almost a year after he announced himself on the global stage, teenage whizz-kid, Letsile Tebogo once again made the world sit up and take notice.
Showing nerves of steel and a confidence that drew comparisons to a retired Jamaican superstar, the 19-year-old bullet shot to further U/20 World Championship glory.
In retaining the 100m world junior title he won in Kenya last August, Tebogo ran the fastest time ever clocked by a teenager, 9.91 seconds – breaking his own record (9.94s) set at the World Athletics Championships in Eugune, Oregon less than a month ago.
As well as the blistering speed, it was the casual manner in which the Kanye kid cruised to victory that will have the sporting world especially excited.
Taking control of the race from the starter’s gun, Tebogo pushed into an early lead, making his competitors, the best young talent the world has to offer, look positively sluggish in their efforts.
15m from the finish line, with the Gold as good as his, Tebogo visibly eased off, raising his right hand, pointing towards and even looking behind him at Jamaica’s Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, who was busting a gut to secure second place.
With a huge grin on his face, the local lad finished first, his late theatrics preventing him from recording an even faster time.
As the world media scurried to get a word from the man (who is still really just a boy) of the moment, a relaxed Tebogo spoke with the same confidence he displayed on track.
“I saw they were scared of me. So when the starting pistol went off, I had to make sure I made the best start, which I did,” he said simply.
And as for the early celebrations, which prompted mixed reactions both in Botswana and around the world, with some damning his behavior as showboating and others calling it excellent entertainment, Tebogo shrugged off the criticism with the charm of an innocent ‘schoolboy’.
“The plan was to enjoy the race and remind the world about what Usain Bolt did back in the days. He’s the person I look up to. If I disappointed anyone with the celebration, I am sorry,” reiterated the youngster, who is set to enroll at the University of Oregon in America shortly, after the institution, impressed with his exploits at the World Champs, gave him a scholarship.
In a parting shot, Tebogo told the gathered press he believes he could have run 9.80 (the 12th fastest time in 100m history) if he had continued full steam until the end. Instead he chose to slow down to avoid risk of straining himself as there is still much running to come – Batswana will be hoping this is true for many, many years!