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Updated 29 July 2009
Gable GARENAMOTSE, Botswana (Long Jump)
Born 28 February 1977, Gumare
1.83m / 75kg
Third child in family of seven; one son, Tumo
Graduate from University of Wales – Sports Development Officer for the Maun region
Coach: Gwyn Williams
Gable Garenamotse is one of the longest serving athletes in Botswana. Born in the far north of the country, in the heart of Okavango Delta, he started athletics in 1995 and was rapidly crowned double national champion in the Long Lump (6.70) and the Triple Jump (14.32), aged 18.
The following year, the Maun Senior Secondary school student placed 5th (14.92) and 8th (7.15) at the African Championships in Yaoundé, Cameroon. For the first four years, he would try a bit of everything, from the Javelin (56m) to the 5000m and Cross Country, before specialising in the horizontal jumps in 1999 and the Long Jump only in 2002.
In 1998 Garenamotse completed his O-levels and was later selected for the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, in September. But the event left a bitter taste in his mouth. He arrived having prepared for the Long Jump only but, reluctantly, he had to take part in the Triple Jump as well because Botswana’s federation had entered him in both events. He jumped 16.05 but injured his ankle which forced him to pull out of his favourite discipline.
On his return from Malaysia, the young jumper decided to quit athletics and join cycling. He was among the cyclists who participated in one of the longest cycling races in the country, from Maun to Francistown in 1999 (about 510km). But Adam Letham, the athletics coach at Maun Secondary, convinced him to change his mind and six months later he was back on the track.
In 1999 Garenamotse moved to Gaborone to do a placement as a public relations and marketing officer for a year. He had his first experience of a World Championship in Sevilla but he was unable to progress beyond the qualifying round. After turning down an offer for a scholarship at West Virginia State University, in the US, the Botswana National Sports Council offered him the chance to go either to Australia, the United Kingdom, or America.
Garenamotse chose the University of Wales, in Cardiff. He had been spotted by 1964 Olympic champion for the Long Jump, Lynn Davies, during a trip to Africa to look for sporting talent on behalf of the Sports Council for Wales.
Following the African Championships in July 2000 in Algiers, where he placed 4th in the Triple Jump (16.19w) and 8th in the Long Jump (7.53), Garenamotse landed in Cardiff in September to start a Bachelor in Sports Science (2000-2003) which he later completed with a Master in Sports Development and Coaching Course (2003-2005).
Training under Gwyn Williams, his performances improved dramatically as he progressively gained consistency around the 8m mark and started to reap his first international laurels. In 2001, he jumped a windy 8.26 in Ashford, in early August, before clinching a bronze medal (7.99) at the World University Games in Beijing at the end of the month. In 2002, he had his first legal jump above 8m (8.01) in an indoor meet in Cardiff on 3 February.
Garenamotse’s outdoor season was salvaged by an unhoped-for silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester (7.91), having not trained for three months due to an ankle injury. This performance, the first ever silver medal on this scale for Botswana, was considered a real breakthrough by the national media.
In 2003 he soared to a new national record in Bad Langensalza in June (8.14) but could do no better than 7.57 in the qualifying round of the World Championships in Paris. He was also eliminated in the qualifying round (7.78) in his first participation at the Athens Olympics the following year, his jumping being hampered by a muscle pull sustained the week before.
Upon graduation in 2005, Garenamotse moved back to Botswana. He landed in Gaborone just as the team was travelling to Europe for the World Championships. But, after five years of full-time studies, the jumper felt he needed some rest and decided to cut his season short to better prepare for the next one. He soon took a job with the Botswana National Sports Council as sports development officer for the Maun region.
“It is important to me that I’m not just an athlete because I think that, to some extent, it is not healthy,” Garenamotse said. “I wouldn’t want to be long jumping all the time with nothing else to do”. Since then, he has been training on his own, communicating with his coach in the UK by e-mail.
Despite not benefiting from the same quality facilities as in UWIC, Garenamotse did very well in 2006. He clinched a second silver at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, in March, bettering his national record twice (8.15 and 8.17, just three centimetres short of World indoor champion Ignisious Gaisah). He went on to set three more national records, 8.19 in Bad Langensalza on 8 July, 8.25 in Hania on 17 July, and 8.27 in Rhede on 20 August. He had to settle for 4th at the African Championships but had the satisfaction of ending the season ranked 13th in the world on distance.
In 2007, Garenamotse jumped over 8.15 in two meetings – in Warsaw on 17 June (8.16) and Bad Langensalza on 7 July (8.34w and 8.18). Two weeks later, at the All Africa Games, in Algiers, he overcame the pain caused by a groin injury to claim his first continental title with an 8.08 mark on his last attempt. He then pulled out of all the meetings to which he had been invited to allow the groin to heal and to preserve his chances ahead of the World Championships. His performance in Osaka was far from expectations, though. Oversized spikes provided by his sponsor, and acclimatisation difficulties, drove him to an early exit as he could do no better than 7.77 for 20th place.
Garenamotse, who is not keen on competing in Europe during winter because of the cold climate, made a rare indoor appearance at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, where he came without references, having mostly focused on speed training. However, he managed a creditable 4th (7.93), his best placing so far in a global championships.
The Botswanese jumper did not have as much success at the African Championships, held at altitude in early May in Addis Ababa, finishing 7th (7.84). But he explained after the event that he had preferred to switch his take-off leg to preserve a tight hamstring. He later landed beyond 8 metres five times, with a best performance of 8.22 in Bad Langensalza on 7 June, just five centimetres short of his national record. His 9th place (7.85m) at the Olympic Games in Beijing left him with mixed feelings. On one side, there was the satisfaction reaching the top 10 and achieving one of the best ever placing in Botswana's sport (teammate Amantle Montsho finished 8th in the women's 400m in Beijing). However there was also disappointment for failing to compete up to his level, because of a hamstring injury sustained three days before the qualifying rounds.
The injury ended his 2008 season and kept him off the runway until February. His 2009 debut was in Dakar mid-April where he lept 7.89m for 3rd. Then Garenamotse traveled to Europe where he achieved a promising 8.11m in Hengelo on June 1. But his preparation was slowed once again by a groin injury sustained mid-June at the Golden League meet in Berlin (7.86). He took a month’s break from competition and returned in Abuja (3rd with 8.00m).
The 30-year old now hopes to have recovered to 80-90% top shape to overcome his bad record at the World Championships and make the Final so that his young son Tumo, who dreamt to be with him in Berlin but will kept home as he started school, will have something to rejoice over watching the champs on TV.
Garenamotse can be easily recognised on the runway as he wears stripy coloured socks. He says: “When I wear the socks, people in the stands look at me and the camera focuses on me and that puts me under a lot of pressure, but I perform best under pressure.”
Long Jump: 8.27 (2006); 8.34w (2007)
1996: 7.41 / 15.36; 1997: 7.67 / 15.66; 1998: 7.53A / 16.05; 1999: 7.97 / 16.66; 2000: 7.65A / 15.98 / 16.19w; 2001: 7.99 / 8.26w / 15.92i; 2002: 8.01i / 7.91 / 15.32; 2003: 8.14; 2004: 7.98; 2005 – 8.07; 2006 – 8.27; 2007: 8.18 / 8.34w; 2008: 8.22; 2009: 8.11
2001 3rd World University Games (7.99)
2002 2nd Commonwealth Games (7.91)
2003 5th All Africa Games (7.83)
2006 4th African Championships (8.02)
2006 4th African Championships (8.02)
2007 1st All Africa Games (8.08)
2008 4th World Indoor Championships (7.93)
2008 7th African Championships (7.84)
2008 9th Olympic Games (7.85)
Prepared by Carole Fuchs for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007-2009.