The absence of Botswana’s 800m track runner Nijel Amos in the National Athletics Champion line up robbed the event of its star attraction. While local athletes were sweating it out in the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) National Championships, Amos, who has a hectic schedule ahead of this year’s Rio Olympics was outside the country to compete at the Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco.
Despite rumours that he had initially confirmed his availability for the National Championships, the track star pulled a major surprise at the last hour choosing to honor the first ever African Diamond League slated for Morocco.
The absence of Amos created some confusion and came as a surprise for BAA President Moses Bantsi, who announced that the athlete was on the lineup for the national championships. Addressing the media ahead of the National Championships, the BAA said: “As far as I know Nigel is expected to compete in our national event, he did not communicate with us yet concerning his withdrawal, this is not right. All I want is proper communication so that we don’t look disorganized at the last hour” he said.
National championships is a ranking event which usually pits all top rated local athletes against each other to gauge their performance ahead of international events, in this case Africa Senior Championships slated for Durban next month and World Juniors.
“There is no how we can stop Nigel from competing at the Diamond League because he is making money out of it to enhance his living. That we understand but our concern is that we have upcoming youngsters who we believe they can do better and looks up to him and we don’t want to discourage and disappoint them. We want to build future stars who will succeed him,” added the BAA boss.
He however stated that there were serious measures that can be taken against all athletes who defy the call of the BAA as per IAAF rules and regulations.
“It’s a matter of writing one sentence to IAAF and he can be sanctioned but we don’t want to do that because we understand that these people earn a living from athletics hence we are lenient” he added.
“Let us not dwell much on him so that we don’t discourage aspiring stars in athletics. Everyone must have the audacity to believe that they can also do better without whomever,” Bantsi said.
BAA President also urged all athletes to always honor national events whenever they are requested in order to boost their national profiles.