As Botswana’s youthful athletics brigade of Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda prepare to jet off for the World Junior Championships en route to the Rio 2016 Olympics, one cannot help but wonder if the country is headed for a medal surprise at the Olympics. For starters, there is something Nijel Amos’esque about the path the two athletes will take en-route to the Olympics. When Amos showed up at the 2012 London Olympics four years ago, the athlete had first gone via the World Youth Championships in Barcelona where he garnered a medal. From there, the then unknown 18 year old, who was under the tutelage of Coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe, would go on to win Botswana’s maiden and still only Olympic medal. Just like Amos, in a couple of weeks, both Thebe and Baboloki who are under the tutelage of Otsetswe, will head out to the World Juniors en-route to the Olympics. Both athletes have just returned from a successful outing at the Africa Senior Championships, where they surprised many in the continent, beating seasoned athletes to earn Botswana gold and silver in men’s 400m track event. The young athletes’ performance was enough to impress Botswana’s most successful athlete, Nijel Amos himself.
“These youngsters are doing very well. I am happy Botswana has another circuit of upcoming youngsters and it shows that we have a circle that is going on and it is not breaking,” the track star enthused. Though not keen to put pressure on them, Amos could not help but pay them a glowing tribute as he watches them walk the same path he had walked towards stardom. “So far, they are in a good position. They are doing well in their own way and their peak. I am sure they are special athletes and they can go very far,” Amos said. He said the arrival of the athletes has boosted the country’s 400X400m relay, which he insists is one of the best in the world. “I am happy at the pool of athletes we have. Some of us have our own individual races to compete in at the Olympics, so, some of the athletes can run the heats and take us to the finals and we will see what happens there,” Amos said. Already the most decorated and experienced athlete of the current crop, Amos, who is considered Botswana athletics’ senior statesman, albeit at just 22 years of age, however cautioned that the young athletes should not put themselves under pressure. “When they go out to compete, I always tell them to go out and do their best, to run their own races. The most important thing in a race is to create memories. I always tell them go out there and make memories and that is what I told Baboloki when he went to the finals, to go out there and make memories,” Amos explained. T
he 800m track star also paid another glowing tribute to his fellow 800m runner, Boitumelo Masilo, who, though still yet to qualify for the Olympics, has shown great promise. “He will make it. Even though he did not make the qualifying time for the Olympics, I am still very happy with his performance and his commitment and he will achieve something”. Meanwhile, the athlete said he will be looking to take the lead and make the country proud at the Rio Olympics. Already the country’s greatest medal hope, the athlete said he will be looking to once again bring home a medal from the Rio Olympics. “I am going to Rio to do the best that I can do. Hopefully, I will get something better than I got at the London 2012 Olympics.”