The ‘Road to Rio Olympics” has begun
by Tshepho Bogosing
Botswana’s progress at the Olympic Games has been slowly improving. Undoubtedly, this year at the just ended Olympics, a medal, regardless of the status, was on the cards. In the 1980s when Botswana started participating, local athletes always bowed out early.
Improvement started showing at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and the 1996 games when local athletes started reaching semi-finals.
In 2000, middle distance runner Glody Dube broke that jinx and managed to reach the finals. In 2004 and 2008 the local 400by 4 relay team and Amantle Montsho were the ones carrying high the Botswana flag by reaching the finals but could not even go near the medal podium.
This year, Montsho nearly won a bronze while a young and unknown 18-year-old, Nijel Amos, shocked many by winning a silver medal.
Amos beat some of the seasoned runners and the future looks bright for him and at one stage might even win a gold medal. Amos’ rise to be among the best in the world shows that somewhere the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is doing things right.
This also shows that if more efforts can be made, Botswana will win many medals and be a force to reckon with in the world. Nevertheless, to build a strong Olympic runner, it takes approximately six years and already the next edition of the Olympics is just around the corner and is to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For those countries that are serious about Olympics, there should already be earmarked athletes. The spokesperson for BAA, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, told The Telegraph Sports that efforts have long been on the way for 2016 Rio Olympics. He said there is a number of good athletes across the country that will shock many people, even more that Amos.
“It was just unfortunate that some of our good athletes could not make it to London, but I can tell you in 2016 we will have many athletes at the Olympics who will not be adding numbers but to strongly compete,” he said. Ramatshaba added that, unlike in the past when Botswana were only represented in the middle distance, there will be several in the short distance.
“Currently, we have a guy like Yatea Kambepera who is really exceptional in both 100 and 200 meters. He could not qualify for 2012 London Olympics because he had an injury. If he prepares well, he is going to give those Jamaican and American guys a tough time,” he said.
Ramatshaba also added that Batswana should look out for the 400 by 4 relay team because it will be stronger.
Other youthful athletes that Ramatshaba said are very impressive include the likes of Sego Sebe, Isaac Seoke, Tlhaloganyo Motlamorago (800), Leungo Matlhaku (100 and 200). He emphasized that the above mentioned athletes stand a better chance of qualifying on A standard.