Thursday, April 25, 2024

Botswana posts worst results at the African Games in over two decades 

Botswana returned home with thirteen (13) medals, which include three silvers and ten bronze medals to finish 32nd in the medal standings at the 13th African Games in Accra, Ghana.

All the country’s three silver medals came courtesy of athletics team, which brought home six of the 13 medals. The silver medals came through Victor Ntweng in the men’s 400m hurdles as well as the men’s and mixed 4X400m relay teams.

Athletics’ three bronze medals on the other hand were courtesy of Kemorena Tisang in men’s 400m hurdles, Tumo Nkape in men’s 800m and the women’s 4X400m relay team. 

Karate returned home with two bronzes through Lethabo Sekano in Kumite and the women’s Kata team. Swimming also brought two bronze medals, all through Adrian Robinson. The remaining three bronze medals came courtesy of men’s beach volleyball team, women boxing’s Keamogetse Kenosi and Taekwondo’s Karabo Kula. 

The overall result for Team Botswana were the worst in the country’s participation at the games in close to three decades. Finishing 32nd at the games also means this becomes the joint worst ranking Botswana has achieved at the African Games in close to three decades. It equals the ranking from the 1995 games in Harare, Zimbabwe which was until this year, the worst by Botswana at the African Games.

In terms of medal hauls, this marked the first time Botswana returned home without a medal in two decades. The last time Botswana returned without a single gold from the games was in 1999 at Johannesburg, South Africa. Back then, Botswana returned home with just five medals, three silvers and two bronze medals.

Of further interest, this was also the first time Botswana finished the games with a ranking above 20th since in over two decades. Botswana has consistently ranked in the top 20 at the games since winning its first gold medals at the games in Abuja, Nigeria in 2003.

Beyond the results however, there were some major positives from the team at the games. By finishing second and third in men’s 400m hurdles respectively, Ntweng and Tisang became the first athletes from Botswana to win hurdles’ medals in international games.

Elsewhere, Botswana got to witness another young talent from its 400m factory belt in Ernest Kumevu. The 18-year-old finished in 5th position at the games. The teenager is preparing to compete at the World Junior championships.

“For us at athletics, this was not necessarily about the colour of medals. It was about giving exposure to our young athletes. If you look closely, aside from the ladies, this was a relatively youthful team which we sent to Ghana,” Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) vice president Oabona Theetso says.

The BAA vice president adds that it was also a precaution from the association not to send its top athletes to the games ahead of this years’ Summer Olympics. With just about four months left before the start of Paris 2024 Olympics, Botswana is seeking to preserve its athletes who have already qualified to avoid over competing and injuries.

“We want to avoid burnouts and injuries ahead of the Olympics. History is teaching us not to over compete our athletes ahead of major games. That is why our top athletes were not doing individual races. This was an exception for our ladies as none of them has qualified for the games.”

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