Stars of the Galaxy
BY KAGISO FOX PHATSIMO
Judoka Edwin Sello
Sensei Edwin Khoanyane Sello is one of Botswana’s most decorated Judokas. His love and dedication to the sport has seen him bag many medals for his Gaborone based Lesedi Judo Club, and the Botswana Judo National Team. Locally, he is an undisputed warrior, that is how special he is. He has also travelled all over Africa competing, and made a habit of bringing back medals more than half the time.
The 19-year-old made history this year when he became the first Motswana to win a match at the sport’s highest ranked competition. Edwin made history when he participated in the 2017 Suzuki World Judo Championships, held at the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary from the 28th of August to the 3rd of September.
Competing in the men’s U60 kg category, Edwin defeated 18-year-old Lei Wai Ng from Macao in the first round of the championships, to become the first Judoka from Botswana to get past that stage. His victory set up a meeting with one of the best in the world, Mukhriddin Tilovov of Uzbekistan. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old ended young Edwin’s fairytale, defeating him in the second round and he went on to finish 4th overall.
Though his stay in the 2017 Suzuki World Judo Championships was short-lived, it was an experience to cherish for years to come. More than anything, it was a learning practice for the star Judoka.
“The World Judo Championships are the biggest event in the sport. Only the Olympics are better. To have been a part of this high-status tournament was truly a humbling experience. I will treasure the memory for as long as I live,” said Edwin in an interview with Stars of the Galaxy recently.
“My first fight against Lei Wai Ng was not that difficult. I was up for the task, I was fired up, and it paid off when I won. Macao is a country well known for its brilliant athletes. They’re not the best but they’re better than Botswana. I learned from that win that we (Botswana) are not far off in terms of competition.”
Edwin’s exploits in Hungary, alongside his coach, Sensei Frank Masuma, will definitely go a long way in developing both for upcoming international events. After conquering Africa, naturally that’s the next step for the duo who are truly devoted to the game of Judo. Edwin even hinted that with a bit more exposure, he could match the best in the world soon enough.
“I learned at the World Judo Championships that I have the potential. I believe if the Botswana National Sports Council could sponsor me for international training camps and competitions, I could improve my skills and who knows, maybe I could win Botswana a medal at the next Olympics,” he confidently declared.
“Most of the African countries failed to get past the first round. Only Botswana, South Africa and Angola managed. That goes to prove how good I am. With more international exposure, I’ll definitely get better. It’s a must that I win a gold medal in Africa now.”
Born in Lesotho, his mother’s country and raised in Gaborone, his father’s country, Edwin’s confidence and devotion to Judo comes from way back. Since he discovered the sport as a youngster at Lesedi Primary School in Gaborone, he has been keen on being the best. Growing up, he used to excel in athletics as well, but with time he settled for Judo.
Some of his achievements, just to mention a few, are a bronze medal at the 2012 African Judo Championships in Botswana; silver at the 2013 Regional Youth Games in Zambia; and an impressive 5th place finish at the 2014 African Judo Championships in Algeria.
He also won silver at the South African national ranking Judo tournament held in South Africa in 2014. Most recently, he won bronze at the Region 5 Youth Games held in Angola in 2016, and a silver medal in the South African Open Judo Championships in 2017. His achievements locally are too many to mention, and he has vowed to keep going until he wins a medal at the World Championships and the Olympic Games.