Botswana Olympics The inaugural Great Plains Conservation “Botswana Olympics” was held in January. The Selinda Reserve, and then Duba Plains, hosted the all day events on 29th January and 1st February respectively. Mirroring our cousins in Kenya, and their Maasai Olympics held in December, we wanted an equally fun day of camaraderie and bonding. With patriotism high after Botswana’s impressive showing at the 2012 London Olympics where Nijel Amos won the country’s first ever silver medal and our local Maun athlete and World Champion Amantle Montsho posted an impressive 4th in the women’s 400m, the staff was ready.
Selinda, Zarafa, and Explorers Camps united on Selinda Reserve with plenty of energy to burn following our weeklong “Boot camp”. The Reserve’s soccer pitch hosted the opening ceremony complete with national anthems and banners displaying the countries of origin of our most frequent guests. The staff was split into four teams of USA, Europe, UK and Australia but everyone came together to sing Botswana’s national anthem. Duba Plains hosted its own opening ceremony on February 1st on the new airstrip.
The infamous “Break Discus”
The games commenced with the 100m race. GPS technology measured the distance in accordance with International Olympic Committee standards; the staff took it very seriously and all got into the competitive spirit! After three heats, and incredible performances at both Duba and Selinda, the final was held. Spike, the Duba guide, was the favorite having won the competition in previous years. But, no one anticipated the secret speed of Mowa, our young housekeeper from Selinda Explorers Camp. His time of a blistering 11.2 seconds, over a rough soccer pitch and in bare feat is positively amazing. Congratulations Mowa! Then, the ladies were next up. Duba Plains and Zarafa Camp impressed the crowd and tied with a winning time of 11.9 seconds by to Kearabile of Duba Plains and Neo of Zarafa Camps. These results set the bar very high for the 2014 Olympics, and we are all rooting for Mowa’s attendance in Rio in 2016!
Following the sprints, the battle moved to field sports. Some degree of improvisation was required when we designed the events; considering our logistics and location, we did not have access to the state of the art equipment that was available in London. First up was the Maasai high jump inspired by our cousins up north. We emulated the Maasai dancing “high jumping technique” and used two long poles with a piece of thick string tied across. Considering Batswana are not known for their jumping prowess, the event brought screams of laughter and amusement. The tallest members our staff are Bashi from Duba Plains and Nshimane from Selinda Reserve’s HQ both of whom jumped a whopping 8ft 6in. We immediately compared our results with our Maasai brothers, and were humbled to learn that we in fact cannot compete with the Maasai. Kisian Lemoyian of Rombo won the Maasai event with a staggering leap of 8ft 8in. We will get them next year!
After the high jump, the javelin (using a latta pole sharpened at one end), and the “brake” discus followed. There was great amusement all round when we presented the discus for everyone to use. The ladies were even well represented here, with Neo from Zarafa Camp competing capably against the men. The finale of the day’s event was a relay between each nation’s team with Team UK winning at Selinda Camp and Team Australia clinching the Duba Plains title.
The closing ceremony was a festive affair, but the game continued on with impromptu javelin and “brake discus” tossing, and continued leaps. The competitive vibe is palpable, and next year will be an even greater contest between the Maasai and Batswana. Next year’s Maasai & Botswana Olympics are scheduled for December 2013 and January 2014, respectively. Stay tuned!