High flying Nkobolo making waves in foreign shores

Bapati Mmotlanyane

Onkemetse Nkobolo is not a name that readily trips off the tongue but expect to hear more of the 23-year old boy from Moroka. Nkobolo is based in Spain where he is making a name for himself with praiseworthy performances that have sent tongues wagging across the athletics circles in the European nation.
After being awarded a glorious 3 year deal scholarship by Ali Centre, Spain, in 2014 Nkobolo never looked back as he proved to be a star in the making with inspirational performances that have landed him on a purple patch this season in the Zaragoza Spain League as he struck his personal best of 45.81s in the 400m race.
He is already a part of the Botswana senior men’s 4×400 relay team that earned a qualification spot at the upcoming World Championships slated for August and the Olympics which are billed for next year in Brazil.

The young athletics starlet possesses legitimate top end acceleration and all attributes that made him one of the deadliest finishers of the 400m race in his junior school days back in 2010. With a definite technique of powering through the bend, Nkobolo has always flashed an incredibly deep pool of raw talent.
Although dynamic and exciting in his style on the track, the Moroka born athlete has admitted things were never quite easy when he moved to Spain, “First and foremost the language and food of this side were something I was not used to, and the way they train it was hard for me but nowadays I can gratefully say I am enjoying everything this side,” said a rather confident Nkobolo.

Although he got off to a slow start statistics-wise on his maiden appearances in Spain, his performances since late 2014 have ignited absolute soaring hopes for the future of Botswana athletics.

The senior national team relay runner could not agree more that he has improved tremendously well after acclimatizing to a new environment and lifestyle in a foreign land. “Indeed I have improved a lot because I did all my personal best this side, first being of 46:21s last year and the current standing one which was my season opener of 45:81s,” noted Nkobolo.
Nkobolo made his way into the men’s senior relay team at the age of 19 and was part of the team that attended the 2013 World Championships but he was unfortunate not to feature as Botswana Athletics Association did not register him to take part. The young Nkobolo has since stamped his credentials to be part of the relay team and was called in due time for the African Senior Champions held in Morocco earlier this year.

Nkobolo humbly appreciated coach Justice Dipeba for giving him a golden opportunity to show the world his talent as he helped the team qualify for the World Olympics at the World relays in Bahamas.

“I am happy because coach Dipeba and the rest of the team have given me a chance to prove myself in the World Championships relay and we have managed to qualify for the Olympics, I can’t even explain the feeling of such achievements for my country,” he said. Nkobolo also lauded the Diamond League duo of Isaac Makwala and Nijel Amos for being there for him as brothers and acting as perennial fountains of advice and inspiration.

“Being in the same team with Amos and Makwala means a lot to me because they always give me advice and keep saying I have to push myself beyond my limits and have never give up as hard work pays a lot,” the athlete added.

Nkobolo however shied away from talking about the support from top sports bodies, BNSC and BNOC, claiming he would rather keep mum about the issue since he is not getting any support from the two. “I don’t want to comment about BNSC and BNOC  because they don’t give me any support, maybe they could explain to you better but I am glad Batswana are giving me that support  and messages of encouragement that make me to even push hard in my races and even in training,” he highlighted.

In his last words before his Saturday League race, the emerging golden boy reeled out hopes for the future. “My target for now is to qualify for the World Championships as an individual. In the next three years my target is to be part of IAAF Diamond league,” concluded Nkobolo.