Thursday, July 7, 2022

Botswana’s preparations for London Olympics on course

With the year fast coming to an end and the 2012 London Olympics fast approaching, the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho, says preparations for next year’s London 2012 are ongoing.

“Preparations for the Olympics have been ongoing as part of our London 2012 and beyond plan. This plan is a four-year plan that will see the country to the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and carry us through to Rio De Janeiro Olympics in 2016,” Serufho explained. “If you can clearly recall, early this year we renewed the scholarships of elite athletes like Amantle Montsho, Isaac Makwala and Kabelo Kgosiemang to continue their training outside the country. Their scholarships, which also give them grants to help them compete in international competitions, will come to an end next year in June. This was done to ensure that they have adequate training to ensure that when they get to the Olympics in July of that very same year, they are well prepared,” Serufho said.

He added that the three athletes are just a few out of many who are also getting help to try to get to the Olympics.

“We have secured funds for two swimmers, two athletes from Judo as well as seven boxers to prepare for the Olympics. The Botswana team that went to the World Boxing Championships in Baku was funded through this initiative as a way to help them qualify for the Olympics,” the BNOC CEO said. “The question is, are these preparations sufficient across all codes? No. Even though the abovementioned athletes have been helped, there is still a lot that needs to be done.”

He says at the moment, they are continuously in talks with other stakeholders, like the Botswana National Sports Council and the different sporting codes, to see how all programmes can complement each other to ensure better preparations for the athletes.

On the issue of funding, he says for the entire London 2012 and Beyond plan, the BNOC had made a budget estimated at P152 million. Of that amount, he says an extract of P35 million would have been needed just to facilitate the preparation of athletes for the London Olympics.

“Countries spend a lot of money to develop their athletes for games of this nature. Our projections for funding were done looking at what it takes to develop an Olympic athlete. The figure quoted above is what we believe we will need if we are to get medals at the games. But then, we are not aloof to the problems on the ground and we understand that the country is just coming out of recession and we may not get the amounts we required and therefore we will have to use whatever we can get to prepare our athletes,” Serufho continued.

He says as such, their (BNOC) focus is now refined to the period between this past month (September) and London 2012 to ensure the country gets the best out of the funding they get.
“We have already started sifting through our athletes to see those who can qualify for next year’s Olympics and our priority will be to give them the best chance of competing and winning at the games,” he added. Serufho further explained that their intention is to send at least 20 athletes to the London Games, nine more than they sent to the Beijing Olympics three years ago.

As for their target, Serufho says as part of the Southern African region, their given target will be to get at least one medal for the region.

“The ten countries that make the Southern African region have agreed on what is called 12 x 12 project. Under this, they agreed that all ten countries in the region should bring at least one medal from the games while the region’s powerhouses, South Africa and Zimbabwe, are to get two medals each. All together, that makes 12 medals from the 2012 Olympics hence the name 12 x 12. However, as Botswana, we have set ourselves a target of two medals, one of which should be gold,” Serufho concluded.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper