The twelve person Botswana team that failed to win a medal at the just ended Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil has lost its allure and has instead turned into a lightning rod of controversy.
After enduring harsh criticism from disappointed fans, the team was last week under attack again, this time for “wasting” money on a countrywide tour.
On their return from Rio, the team embarked on a cross country motorcade through Gaborone, Mahalapye, Palapye and Francistown for public to meet and greet fans.
The tour however is being criticised by Batswana and other sports stakeholders who feel it is as waste of money because there is nothing to celebrate. Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Committee (CEO) Tuelo Serufho says contrary to people’s belief, the tours was included in the initial Rio budget.
“Be aware that when we went to Rio we were quite optimistic that we would come back with at least a medal out of the 12 athletes who qualified and as a result we made plans that when we get back we will go on a nationwide tour that will allow the team to interact with the public in different areas. The tour was a thank you gesture to Batswana for supporting the team during the Olympic Games. We performed well although we did not bring any medals and so we decided to go ahead with the tour because it was budgeted for,” he said.
He further stated that even though they did not reach their targets of surpassing the London 2012 record of 1 silver medal that was brought by Nigel Amos in 800m they found it fit to appreciate and celebrate the good performance by Botswana athletes especially in 400m and 4X 400m men’s relay.
“It was the first time in history of Botswana to have 3 or more athletes progressing to the semi finals, breaking and setting new national records. We believe that this is worth celebrating that’s why we took the team to the people to be seen and celebrated.”
“Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda are ranked 1st and 2nd respectively as the fastest 400m junior runners in the world and we are surprised that some people don’t appreciate these accomplishments. All they do is criticise the team”, lamented Serufho.
He said “the tour was to also meant to drum up support for athletes and to give them an opportunity to report back to Batswana who never get the opportunity to watch them compete in international competitions.”
“I don’t understand why people think we are misusing money. For your own information it did not cost us a lot, the UB indoor sports arena was free, we did not provide food for the public during the course, and we paid close to nothing for the decoration and transport that was provided for the athletes same applies to the Francistown trip”, said Serufho.