Thursday, October 29, 2020

COVID-19 throws Botswana Athletics Association off the track

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has cancelled its 2020 calendar of events. This was revealed by the association vice president technical Oabona Theetso.

Speaking in an interview, the BAA vice president technical said the continued disruption of their calendar of events by the coronavirus had forced them to abandon plans.

“If it was according to our will, we could have resumed this year’s competitions on 2 August last month,” Theetso explained.

“Our plans then were that we would host competitions fortnightly from the same date until December.”

According to Theetso, their plans were however disrupted back then as a two week lockdown of the Greater Gaborone was declared.

He went on to add that the situation was not helped by the continued increase in the coronavirus infection rate, which forced the BAA to reconsider.

“Following this, we consulted with our coaches to determine a path to follow. They were of the opinion that it was already too late to resume the season,” he explained.

He said during the consultations with coaches, they recommended that the remainder of the season be used as an off-season training period.

“The coaches felt that this would help them bring athletes back to competition fitness without any undue competition pressure,” Theetso added.

Following the consultations, the BAA vice president said the association agreed and decided to call off the season.

“If you remember, during the said period, we also had some of our elite athletes in camp preparing for the Tokyo Olympics,” he said.

“Now, we will soon meet with the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), who are the organisers of the camp, to map a way forward,” he continued.

With the season now closed, Theetso said the BAA has decided it will resume its calendar of activities for next season towards the end of this year.

The BAA vice president technical went on to say that the BAA normally starts its season with the cross-country championships between December and February.

“At the end of the cross-country championships, the BAA then starts hosting its season’s track and field events,” he explained.

He said as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has declared that the Tokyo Olympic will be held with or without coronavirus, the BAA will also start its next season’s calendar of events ‘with or without the coronavirus.’

With the Tokyo Olympics billed for July 29th 2021, Theetso said he is hopeful that local athletes will be much better prepared for the games.

“Our athletes normally peak in April and our hope is that this will be the case next season and they reach their peak at least two months before the Olympics,” he said.

Meanwhile, Theetso said as the athletes start their off-season training, the facilities will soon be opened for them.

He said at the moment, athletes cannot use the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) facilities in Gaborone as they are closed.

“The BNSC recently recorded a positive case of the coronavirus and the facilities, including the gym were closed,” he explained.

“We are hopeful that once all the COVID 19 prevention protocols have been followed and the facilities have been disinfected, the facilities will once again be available for use by our athletes,” he concluded.

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