Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) will send a team of twenty athletes to compete at the regional Cross Country Championships billed for Maseru, Lesotho, this weekend. The team, which is composed of ten male and ten female athletes will leave the country today (Wednesday) and will be expected back in the country on Sunday.
Speaking in an interview, BAA Public Relations Officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, said the team boasts of ten senior athletes, five men and five ladies, as well as an equivalent number of junior athletes.
With the regional championships serving as a qualifier for the Cross Country World Championships that are to be hosted by Poland in three weeks’ time, the BAA PRO said the local athletes are expected to use the championships to book their tickets to the World Championships.
“The BAA has, as┬áof 2013┬ádecided to select athletes on performance based in accordance with IAAF rules. Thus we will be closely monitoring athletes and only those who meet the set valuation criteria will go to Poland,” Ramatshaba explained.
He was optimistic that the team will perform well at the regional championships to qualify for cross country’s biggest stage.
Concerning the selected team, the BAA spokesperson said only the best performing athletes have been selected into the team.
“All the athletes who have been selected here are the ones who performed well at the Cross Country national championships. What is even more interesting is that, looking at them, they are the same athletes who have been winning during the local 2013 cross country series,” he added.
With BAA seeking to send a team rather than individuals to the Cross Country world championships so as to garner an international ranking, Botswana has sent its strongest team to compete.
The senior men’s team is made up of athletes who have dominated local cross country scene for a while now. These include the likes of Godiraone Nthompe, Kaelo Mosalagae, Rapula Diphoko, Boiphemelo Selagaboy and Sesebo Matlapeng.
The women’s senior team, on the other hand, is also made up of well known athletes like Onkemetse Solotate, Kefilwe Galeitsiwe, Mema Tyiango, and Joyce Tau with 20-year-old Marea Maano completing the team.
According to Ramatshaba, while the team has not had any camp prior to the regional championships, the team has been active and athletes are fit enough to compete.
“Our junior athletes have been competing in school competitions and they have been doing very well winning their races. As for our senior athletes, they have also been actively competing in our local championships and are ready for competition. Should the team perform well, they will only have a very short time to prepare for the World Championships.”
The Lesotho bound team will be coached by Mokganedi Bobi and William Mokwena while Kefilwe Ramphaleng will be the team manager.