So near and yet so far: Botswana athletes came an impressive fifth out of 22 countries at the Africa Senior Championships in Durban but fell short of their target.
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is however still hopeful that more athletes will qualify for the Rio Olympics. Team Botswana sent more than 20 athletes to compete in different track and field events in their quest to increase the number of representatives at the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, from their target of ten medals at the Championships, they only managed 5 medals; three gold, one silver and one bronze.
The medals were scooped by athletes who have already qualified for Rio which has dampened than new names will be added to the list of athletes who will represent the country at the world’s biggest sporting event.
BAA Vice President Technical Glody Dube is however still upbeat and told Sunday Standard Sports that they “are pleased with their team’s performance at the Championships where we finished 5 Overall amongst 22 countries even though we did not meet our target. Our athletes did well because most of them clocked their personal best times which are a true reflection of progress, but we want to see them clocking qualifying times. We do not put them under any pressure when we send them to compete and we believe that these championships did not discourage them and it should be a learning curve. Africa is one of the most competitive continents with strong athletes so they were competing against the best and we are happy,” he said.
Christine Botlogetswe and Lydia Jele who both qualified for Rio came empty handed after finishing 6th and 8th respectively in the ladies 400m finals. Dube “we are not that worried because they are still young and they have a lot to offer going forward. We had Amantle Montsho who we waited on for six years before results started coming and we will do the same for these ladies maybe they will adapt faster even if they do not they will still has our support as BAA.” He said they are working around the clock to organise international competitions overseas for local athletes who they believe still stand a chance to qualify for Rio. “We intend to send some athletes overseas to go try their luck in some international contests because it is always difficult to qualify in Africa due to unfavourable weather conditions. The altitude is high in Africa because in Europe they are running below sea level which gives them an advantage to clock qualifying times and we still hope for more qualification” he explained. Isaac Makwala, Onkabetse Nkobolo, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo Sibanda, Lydia Jele and Christine Botlogetswe both (400m), Nigel Amos (800m) are the only athletes who qualified for the Olympics in athletics while Naomi Ruele qualified in Swimming.