Stars of the Galaxy: Olorato Makabe and Pamela Masikara (UB Fencing Club)
By KAGISO FOX PHATSIMO
Olorato Makabe and Pamela Masikara joined the University of Botswana Fencing Club (UBFC) by chance back in October 2017. At first the girls were led by curiosity when they decided to experiment by enlisting to learn the elite sport. Little did they know that their lazy walks from their dormitories to the UB Indoor Sports Arena just to pass time, would lead them to winning medals.
Fast forward to now, 6 weeks later, and they are amongst Botswana’s most promising Fencers. The UB students have showed the will to learn and continued dedication to training. In less than 2 months they have seized enough material to contest against more experienced Fencers. For many athletes it takes time to learn the sport, but what the girls needed was a simple invitation.
Once they fell in the hands of National Team Coach, Master Karabo Thobega, who helps out UBFC with weekly training, their understanding of the game quickly improved. Master Thobega encouraged the girls to take training seriously, which they did, learning faster than the average Fencer. They face their male counterparts regularly during workouts to improve their strength.
Olorato and Pamela, competed in the Botswana Armature Fencing Society (BAFS)’s 2017 Gaborone Open tournament, held at Fairground Holdings Pavilion Hall in Gaborone on Saturday October 11. The 19 years-olds contested in the Women’s U20 Epee category, were they managed to reach the final. Their friendship had to be put aside. A gold medal was at stake here and only one of them could have it.
It emerged that Olorato’s name was the one written in the Stars as she managed to upset Pamela, an opponent who gets the better of her frequently at training. The match ended 15-13 as they both won medals in their first ever BAFS ranking event. A gold medal for Olorato the champion, and silver medal for Pamela the runner-up.
The winner said grabbing gold was a beautiful experience, especially after a recent unfortunate event. Her cellphone was stolen at the UB Indoor Sports Arena while she was busy with training just days before the tournament.
“Sadly my phone got stolen while I was training a few days ago. I was really hurt and angry at the person who took it. How could they do that to me, while I’m busy preparing for my first ever competition? People can be heartless,” Olorato lamented.
“I was also scared days prior to the Gaborone Open, and I almost chickened out. I mean, I am new in the sport and already here I was preparing for a tournament. It was all happening too fast. I almost didn’t make it. But then I decided to let out my frustration on the piste. I faced every opponent as if they were the thief who took my phone. The strategy worked. I won gold.”
For her part, Pamela said had it not been for the injury she sustained, she could have done better. Her right shoulder was hurting throughout the tournament, which slowed her down, especially at the final.
“I could have done better at the final, but I was carrying an injury on my right shoulder, which affected my arm. I couldn’t move as fast as I wanted to. My fully fit opponent won the first few points, which proved to be decisive in the end. She reached maximum 15 points before I could catch up and I had to settle for silver,” Pamela said.
The two girls have been friends since they met at Nyangabgwe Primary School in Francistown, where they completed standard 7 in 2011. They graduated to Setlalekgosi Junior School before joining Mater Spei College, still in Francistown, prior to joining UB. Olorato is in her first year of Bachelor of Arts and Social Science (Population Studies, Economics and Statistics), while Pamela is pursuing a Bachelor of Education (Counselling).
While they prepare for their first examinations at the University, they will be encouraged by the medals they won in their first Fencing tournament. Their medals will remind them that they are capable of success. They are Stars of the Galaxy in Sports and academics.