For its first half century, Botswana has had only one notable achievement at the Olympics. Nijel Amos’ silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics still remains the country’s best achievement.
Despite the country producing some of the finest athletes this past decade in the likes of Amos, Amantle Montsho, Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda, just to name but a few, the country has since failed to add to its single medal tally at the Olympics.
In fact, in the run up to the country’s semi-centennial in 2016, there was much hope that the country would have garnered a medal or two at the Rio 2016 Olympics to add more cheer to the Independence celebrations.
However, that was not to be. For over half a century of its being, the country had not managed anything past Amos’ medal, something which comes as a disappointment given the talent at Botswana’s exposal.
And if it was according to the youthful Rakgare, the next semi-centennial would be a much better medal laden era. This much he made clear during one of his rare addresses to the local sports journalists at the launch of the initiative by the Chines Community in Botswana and Business Botswana to raise funds for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic preparations.
“Our achievements in this half centenary journey cannot remain the same as those of the first half. We have talent in abundance to be able to qualify more athletes in more sports than we have done previously,” Rakgare said recently.
Fresh from a trip to Europe where, along with some of Botswana’s sports leaders, he met international sports leaders, Rakgare seems optimistic that a change in sport is looming.
“We went there to talk to those who matter most in sports. And this was not about Tokyo. It is about sports development in Botswana. It is about exactly what I alluded to that in the next fifty years, we want to bring those medals home,” he said.
“I have a firm belief that now more than ever before, we have an opportunity to break all our records and, in the process, firmly position ourselves as a regional sport powerhouse,” said Rakgare.
In fact, so optimistic is the youthful Rakgare that he envisages a situation where Botswana would start preparations for Paris 2024 Olympics as soon as local athletes return from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
But in a country where money for sport is not easily available, is this one of those piecrust promises that are easy to make and easy to break by the youthful minister? Is he aware of the magnitude of the task he seeks to undertake?
“This of course requires unprecedented levels of planning and execution, backed up by adequate resourcing that includes finances,” Rakgare explained.
In fact, the youthful Rakgare seems so committed to Botswana’s success at the Olympics that he wants to see to it that the country wins a medal or two at the impending Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite late preparations.
“I must commit here that in the near future as the ministry we will commit figures to show our commitment to motivate our athletes to bring medals home. This is besides the arrangement made by the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and the local business community,” he added.
He went on to add that as the Government, they are aware that the BNOC is under resourced and they intend to correct the anomaly. “We intend to resource BNOC better than they are now. They are under resourced,” he promised.
“Immediately after Tokyo 2020, those athletes who would have posted better times and performances, and still have a chance to compete at the Paris 2024, we should be able to assist BNOC to prepare them for future competitions. Even if they need to start camps before the end of this year until the 2024 Olympics, we need to avail to them enough resources to help them,” he said.
But will all these promises come to pass? All eyes will be on Rakgare to fulfill, and only time will tell. But given all the promised new dawns to local sport that never came to be, do not expect local sport to hold their breath!