With less than a month left before the elapse of the cut-off date set by the Botswana National Olympic Committee for local athletes to have qualified for the London 2012 Olympics, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is hopeful more athletes will qualify before then.
The BAA, which is the only sporting code with athletes who have qualified for the Olympics, says it is hopeful that they will have at least 12 athletes going to the London showpiece should they fail to make their projected number of 19 athletes going to the Olympics.
So far, four athletes from athletics have already booked their tickets to the Olympics. The four are women’s 400 metres World Champion Amantle Montsho, 400 metres runners Pako Seribe and Isaac Makwala as well as 800 metres runner Nigel Amos.
The duo of Montsho and Seribe is based in Senegal, Makwala in Jamaica while Amos is based in Pretoria, South Africa.
Athletes who are yet to qualify include, among others, German based high jumper Kabelo Kgosiemang, men’s 400 metres and 400 X 400 metres relay runners Sakarea Kamberuka, Thapelo Ketlogetswe and Obakeng Ngwigwa as well as ladies’400 metres and 400 X 400 metres relay runners Lydia Mushila, Leungo Matlhaku and Kgalalelo Sefu.
Speaking in an interview, BAA’s Public Relations Officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba said they are receiving positive feedback from the athletes’ coaches that they are making positive strides towards qualifying. Concerning the German based Kgosiemang, the BAA PRO says his coach had informed them that the athlete has been working hard and is on track to making the Olympic standard qualifying times.
On the progress of the men’s 400 metres relay, the BAA spokesperson says there are positive that the athletes will qualify for the London Olympics.
Meanwhile, Ramatshaba says they expect most of the local athletes to take advantage of the Senn Foods Field and Track National Championships to qualify for the Olympics. He said many of the country’s foreign based athletes, save for Montsho, are expected to take part in the National championships, which will now be held at the University of Botswana Stadium next week on Saturday.
To ensure tough competition, Ramatshaba says, unlike in the past years when the championships were open to all, this time around they have only invited top 16 athletes per event.
Apart from the allure of making the London 2012 team, the BAA has also put forth monetary incentives for athletes, something which is expected to boost the morale of athletes and improve performances. On issues related to preparing the 400 metres relay teams for the Olympics, Ramatshaba says the BAA has invited at least two 400 metres teams from other countries to take part in the National championships. The two countries are expected to run against the Botswana teams as part of preparations. Meanwhile, the BAA PRO says there is still a chance for athletes who are not part of the provisional Olympic team to make it into the team. He says athletes who will meet the standard qualifying times during the National Championships will also be considered.