'I used to train without shoes' - Letsile Tebogo details his grass-to-grace story

Letsile Tebogo

'I used to train without shoes' - Letsile Tebogo details his grass-to-grace story

Funmilayo Fameso 17:29 - 07.07.2024

Letsile Tebogo revealed his early training days which involved him not having the basic things to train with due to family challenges.

Botswana's track icon Letsile Tebogo at a young age has surpassed multiple records, which has seen him rise to the top of the sprint ladder as the 'chosen' successor to Usain Bolt's throne in the future.

This season has seen him clock some of the fastest times in the men's sprint, from breaking the 300m World Record in a new 30.69s to blazing a fast 19.71s in the 200m,= and 44.29s in the 400m, Tebogo is surely on track to do something magical at the Paris Olympic Games.

Letsile Tebogo after breaking the 300m World Record

However, it's not been all rosy for the 21-year-old in his quest for greatness, having a unique grass-to-grace story while growing up in his small village in Botswana.

"I used to train without shoes. They were more expensive, and we couldn't afford that because we lived with our extended family, so it was difficult to get things," said the African Record (AR) holder in the 200m event.

"If you did, it would be as if you were the favoured child, so things had to be equal," he continued.

"So I used to train without shoes in both football and athletics. I would wear a pair of old pants that one of my uncles used to wear back when he was in school. It was just a generational thing," he said.

Tebogo's rise to the top from a teen sensation to being a world medallist

In his first international championship, the youngster announced himself to the global athletics world when he won the 100m title and 200m Silver medal at the 2021 World U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. 

His exploits in Kenya made him the first athlete from his country to win 100m Gold at any World Championships level. Furthermore, he became the second athlete from his country to win a Gold medal at the World U20 Championships, after Nijel Amos.

Transitioning to senior and elite levels, Tebogo produced one of the outstanding performances at the 2023 London Diamond League after running a blistering new African Record (AR) in the 200m.

He clocked a brilliant lifetime best of 19.50s for a second-place finish behind world champion Noah Lyles in a world-leading 19.47s, thereby smashing Namibia's Frankie Fredericks's long-standing AR of 19.68s set at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. 

Following this at the 2023 World Championships, he broke the African jinx of not medalling in the men's 100m event as he sped to the silver medal in a new National Record of 9.88s. Five days later, he won a 200m bronze medal behind Lyles and Erriyon Knighton to cap off a historic outing in Budapest.

Letsile Tebogo became Africa's first male 100m medallist at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest

With the Paris 2024 Olympics on the horizon, Tebogo will be gunning to upset the big guns again by winning a medal, and perhaps the ultimate price of all - becoming an Olympic champion.