With only two months left to the Olympic qualification deadline, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is intensifying its preparations to ensure local athletes qualify for the London Summer Olympics.
The association is now sending a number of their preliminary Olympic team for training outside the country to give them a better chance at qualifying. The athletes, eight in total, are expected to leave the country on the 12th of this month to start their international camps.
Of the eight athletes, three will head for the Pretoria High Performance Centre in South Africa while the remaining five will leave for the Dakar High Performance Centre in Senegal.
The all male trio heading to South Africa will be made of two 100 / 200 m sprinters, Yatea Kambepera and Fanuel Kenosi, as well as 800 m runner Nigel Amos.
The five athletes going to the Dakar High Performance Centre will be made up of three men and two ladies, all running in the 400 m category. The three male athletes will be Tiroyaone Masake, Omphemetse Mokgadi and Obakeng Ngwigwa while the ladies will be Kgalalelo Gaboitsiwe and Goitseone Seleka. “Unfortunately, three of our ladies’ 400 m runners, Lydia Mushila, Oarabile Babolayi and Christine Botlogetswe, will not be going into camp due to study commitments. We have, however, arranged that they continue their training camp locally under the eye of our Cuban expert Alberto Sanchez who has been involved with the team ever since it started camp,” BAA Public Relations Officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, said.
Speaking in an interview, Ramatshaba said the intention is to ensure that the country qualifies a number of athletes so as to ensure the country has a chance of meeting its aim of winning its maiden Olympic medal. On how the decision was made to decide which athletes will go to South Africa or Senegal, the BAA PRO said they decided that all the 400 m runners should train together to make it easy for them to prepare for the relays.
He says the decision was also based on the fact that three of the country’s 400 m athletes are already training in Senegal, where the coach is also a 400 m specialist trainer.
“The ladies will be there to train with Amantle Montsho while the men will be joining fellow 400 m teammates, Sakaria Kamberuka and Pako Seribe,” Ramatshaba said.
Concerning the South African bound trio, the BAA PRO said while there, the athletes will compete in all the Yellow Pages meets in South Africa and will remain at the high performance center until the 31st of this month. On the progress of athletes outside the country, he says the athletes are doing well where they are based.
“The best news that has come out of Senegal is that Kamberuka’s coach has been very impressed with his performances and has tipped him to be the country’s best prospect,” he said.
Meanwhile, he says, the local men’s 400 m athletes are in Istanbul, Turkey, to compete there as part of their preparations.
The five-man team is made up of Jamaican-based Isaac Makwala, Kamberuka, Seribe, Ngwigwa and Thapelo Ketlogetswe. Should all the athletes have qualified by the deadline day, Ramatshaba says they will be sent to a camp in Europe where they will stay until the start of the Olympics. “We already have an offer from Poland for our athletes to go camp there before the Olympics and we are considering it. No decision has been made yet,” Ramatshaba concluded.