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Updated 28 August 2010
Kabelo KGOSIEMANG, Botswana (High Jump)
Born 7 January 1986, Rakhuna
1.88m / 71kg
Eldest of 4 children (3 boys, 1 girl)
Coach: Dr. Wolfgang Ritzdorf
Club: LT DSHS Cologne
As a child, Kabelo Kgosiemang had eyes only for football. Born in Rakhuna, 110km from the capital, Gaborone, although he used to do athletics at school, he did not show any interest in the sport until the 2003 season when he decided to try his luck at it. Attracted by the High Jump mat, he was soon spotted by the sports teacher, who could see the potential laurels for the school.
Coming into the Botswana school championships with a 1.95 best, Kgosiemang improved his mark to 2.05 to win the title and earn selection for his country in the Southern African Schools Championships. The little money he was given for this event increased his motivation to persevere in athletics but the federation insisted that he drop football. Kgosiemang then carried on with a victory at the Southern Africa Youth Championships, held in June in Lesotho, before clinching bronze at the African Junior Championships, in Cameroon, in August (1.95).
In 2004, he added another international medal to his tally with a silver at the Southern African Junior Championships in Gaborone (2.00), though way behind the winner, Ramsay Carelse, of South Africa (2.20).
Kgosiemang started to attract international attention at the 2005 African Junior Championships in Tunis, where he added 6cm to his previous best to clinch gold in a closely fought contest against Egypt’s Karim Samir Lotfy. Both cleared 2.16, a Championship record.
All his early progression was achieved without a regular coach or technical guidance. Although Botswana benefited from a Cuban field coach, Pablo Diaz, who help to produce other leading high jumpers, Kabelo Mmono and Onnanye Ramohube, until his return to Cuba in the autumn of 2004, Kgosiemang could only join them occasionally for training camps. This was because of his school commitments and the distance from his town. Since the end of 2004, there had been no replacement for Diaz and local sports teachers were of little help other than to make sure that the young jumper was committed to training.
Kgosiemang’s success in Tunis opened new horizons and he was offered an IAAF scholarship to train at the Accredited Training Centre of Cologne under Wolfgang Ritzdorf, who has coached past Olympic champions Ulrike Meyfarth and Heike Henkel, among others. His studies in electrical and mechanical engineering put on hold, Kgosiemang left for Germany in December 2005.
The benefits were quick to come: consistent at 2.15 during the indoor season, Kgosiemang made a massive breakthrough at a national meet in Diez on June 18, clearing 2.25 at his second attempt, improving his personal best by 9cm and Botswana’s national record by 5cm. His feat was followed by 2.23 four days later in Algiers, 2.28, in Viersen on 2 July and a 2.30 victory at the African Championships in August, which ranked him as the 25th best performer in the world in 2006. He ended his season with a 4th place (2.20) representing Africa at the World Cup in Athens.
In 2007, before the World Championships Kgosiemang jumped 5 times over 2.25: 2.28 in Garbsen on 20 May, 2.27 in Torino on 8 June and 2.27 for victory at the All Africa Games in Algiers, where he confirmed his favourite’s role despite jumping in difficult conditions. He had the crowd against him as home athletes Hammad and Benhedia finished 2nd and joint 3rd. At the World Championships in Osaka, he managed once more to up his level, clearing 2.29 for an historic qualification for the Final where he settled for 9th with a 2.26 clearance.
2008 had its ups and downs. After a thigh injury cut short his indoor season, preventing him from contesting the World Indoor Championships in March, Kgosiemang made a return to competition beyond expectations at the African Championships at altitude, in Addis Ababa, in May. After securing victory at 2.24, and despite a shorter run-up, he improved his national record to 2.30 on his second attempt, to 2.32 on his first, and to 2.34 on his third.
However, the jumper never was totally injury-free and his results were irregular after that. He jumped 2.24 four times before the Olympic Games, where he was stuck at 2.20 to finish 29th in the qualifying rounds. Just two weeks later however, he cleared 2.29 in Lausanne, his second best result of the year.
After he set an indoor national record with 2.25 in Wuppetal (13 February), a 2.27 clearance in Liege on 15 July was Kgosiemang’s only result over 2.25 in the 2009 outdoor season, which didn’t seem to make him a contender at the Berlin World Championships. His left ankle heavily strapped, he managed to jump pain-free in the qualifying round and cleared 2.30, making his way to the final. But on August 21st a torrential downpour in Berlin forced the jumpers back to the call room during warm-up. The delay as well as the cold and slippery conditions prevailing after the return to track proved fatal for Kgosiemang’s ambition to improve upon his 9th place from Osaka. His ankle was too fragile for that kind of conditions and he wasn’t able to clear 2.23, finishing 13th with 2.18.
Setting the disappointments of 2009 aside, Kgosiemang gradually got back to shape during the 2010 indoor season, tying his national indoor record (2.25) in Dresden on 29 January before improving it to 2.28 in Arnstadt the following week-end. To cap his best winter season so far, he finished 6th of the World Indoor championships in Doha thanks to another 2.28m effort.
Less than a month later, Kgosiemang was back on track for the early African season. Keeping on the same pace, he cleared 2.26m twice in Mauritius and Dakar in April, and again in Rabat in early June and 2.25m in Bühl on 18 June. But since Rabat, the jumper felt his legs tired, a likely consequence of too short a break between the indoor and outdoor season. A visit to the doctor confirmed his muscles were sore and needed some rest. He only resumed serious training mid-July and didn’t join Botswana’s early training camp in Nairobi to keep benefitting from the best training conditions in his race to fitness. 2 jumps at 2.10m and 2.19m were enough for Kgosiemang to claim his third African title in a row and a second selection in team “Africa” for the World Cup. 2.25m turned out of reach on that day but were not needed as nobody else could get higher than 2.15m.
Since the African Championships, the jumper from Botswana has decided to forfeit the meet circuit go give more time for his body to recover and be in top shape for the Continental Cup in Split and the Commonwealth Games in October in New Delhi, India.
2003 – 2.10; 2004 – 2.10; 2005 – 2.16; 2006 – 2.30; 2007 – 2.29; 2008 – 2.34A; 2009 – 2.30; 2010 – 2.28i/2.26
2003 3rd African Junior Championships (1.95)
2005 1st African Junior Championships (2.16)
2006 4th World Cup (2.20)
2006 1st African Championships (2.30)
2007 1st All Africa Games (2.27)
2007 9th World Championships (2.29)
2008 1st African Championships (2.34A)
2009 13th World Championships (2.18)
2010 6th World Indoor Championships (2.28)
2010 1st African Championships (2.19A)
Prepared by Carole Fuchs for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007-2010