Botswana's first female weightlifting star breaks barriers to make Olympics cut

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GABORONE, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Being a child of staunch members of the apostolic church, 20-year-old Magdeline Moyengwa's life appeared set against all odds.

Commonly known as Bazezuru in Botswana, it is a clan with cultural norms that do not allow women to pursue their dreams of life, especially sports. According to her cultural norms and Christian values, women belong in the kitchen.

Against this brief backdrop, Moyengwa could hardly imagine that she would one day break the barriers to become a weightlifting Olympian.

Today, the pintsized but tough as iron weightlifter qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and represented the southern African country at the 32nd edition of the summer games expected to roar into life on July 23.

"It has always been my dream to become an Olympics star," Moyengwa, who started weightlifting while doing her secondary school at Mogoditshane Junior Secondary School in Gaborone, Botswana's capital city, told Xinhua Monday evening.

Moyengwa, part of the second and last batch of Botswana's Olympic delegation, which left the country for Tokyo, Japan via a chartered Ethiopian Airlines from the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport Monday evening, said she is the happiest woman in the land.

"Becoming the first female Motswana (a citizen of Botswana) weightlifter to qualify for the Olympics Games is a big achievement," said an excited Moyengwa saying she is oozing with confidence ahead of the summer games.

Moyengwa, who snatched a bronze medal during the African Senior Championships held in Kenya from May 24 - 31, qualified for the Olympics Games after becoming the top-ranked athlete in Africa in the women's 59kg category.

"I wanted my father to witness my success, especially at the Olympics. He risked being expelled from the church and called names by some people who were against my pursuing of weightlifting," said an emotional Moyengwa, who lost her father last year.

Elinah Moyengwa, the star weightlifter's mother, said she is proud of her daughter. She said her daughter worked very hard to become an Olympian and reaching a feat that many women in Botswana failed to achieve over the years.

"She has made me and my family proud. Most of the people in our neighborhood have been heaping praises for her achievement," said the 46-year-old widow, who supports her daughter in every aspect.

Alex Rankgwe, Moyengwa's tactical coach, is confident that his athlete will perform wonders at the Olympics Games. He said Moyengwa's mental strength and fitness prowess will make her triumph against adversity and might grab a medal.

Botswana has set a target of two medals at the Games. Enditem

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