Silver medallist Letsile Tebogo says quitting social media was key to his historic result representing Botswana at the 2023 World Athletics Championships.
Tebogo, 20, became the first African to make the podium in the 100m at the championships by clocking 9.88 seconds in a thrilling men’s final on Sunday.
“Going off social media was a huge thing to do,” the reigning African Championships 200m title holder said.
“It wasn’t easy. I tried my best to stay out of it. Here is the result.”
Tebogo, who became the first man from Botswana to win a World Championships medal, added: “Everybody is saying whatever they feel like saying, so that [can affect] me mentally.
“Then I just decided, ‘no’ – to let go of social media.”
The first man from his country to break the 10-second barrier in April 2022, Tebogo set a new personal best in the final in Budapest and praised his training partners for their role in keeping his spirits high on the way to his latest remarkable achievement.
“The team consists of four people,” said Tebogo. “We make sure that there is always joy between all of us.
“Nobody goes to sleep sad. I’m really grateful for the silver medal.”
Akani Simbine was the sole African runner in the previous three finals, finishing fifth in 2017 and 2022 and fourth in 2019.
After South African Simbine was disqualified for a false start in the semi-finals this time, reigning African and Commonwealth Games champion Ferdinand Omanyala finished seventh in the final with a time of 10.07.
“If it was possible for me to have moved for Akani, I would have moved out of that lane,” said Tebogo, who also praised Omanyala and said the Kenyan deserved a medal.
“[Simbine] has been doing this for a long time and leading for the African continent, so I’d really move out of that lane for him to run that race.
“I dedicate this medal to him because he has been a great brother. Every time we meet, [it is] motivating to get the job done.”
Tebogo would have comfortably broken Yohan Blake’s record as the youngest 100m gold medallist at the championships by more than a year if he had secured gold.
The last and only previous athlete from Botswana to win a medal at the championships was Amantle Montsho, who followed up her 400m gold in 2011 by claiming silver two years later.
The path to more potential medals this year begins for Tshepiso Masalela in the 800m on Tuesday, when Busang Kebinatshipi, Bayapo Ndori and Leungo Scotch will also compete in the 400m semi-finals.
Kebinatshipi, Ndori and Scotch are part of a team alongside Laone Ditshetelo, Zibane Ngozi and Baboloki Thebe in the 4 x 400m relay, which starts on Saturday.