An incredible team performance by the Botswana men’s 4x400m relay team saw the country just fall 0.15th of a second short of winning gold at the World Relays in Bahamas earlier this morning.
Captained by the wily and experienced veteran Isaac Makwala, the youthful Botswana team captured hearts with a vintage performance and sent a strong warning to competitors ahead of the World Championships which are scheduled for London in August later this year.
The local lads ran the race in an impressive time of 3:02.38 to USA’s winning time of 3:02.15.
Allegedly running with an injury, the experienced Makwala led by example and ensured Botswana keeps tabs on its competitors despite finishing fifth.
It was now left to Baboloki Thebe to put Botswana’s medal hopes back on track and he did exactly that. The youngster ran the country’s fastest time of the relay, clocking an impressive 44.95 seconds, which also happened to be the second fastest split during the entire relay race.
Though Botswana were placed fourth at the end of the second lap, Thebe’s efforts were worth their weight in gold or silver to be precise, as the local athletes closed the gap between the local boys and the leading trio of USA, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Jamaica.
This set the tone for Onkabetse Nkobolo and the Spanish-based athlete did not disappoint. The athlete ran an impressive 45.39 seconds and ensured Botswana was almost on par with the race’s leading trio.
From then on it was Karabo Sibanda all the way as the youngster chased down America’s anchorman LaShawn Merritt all the way to the finish line.
Despite failing to clinch the targeted gold medal at the World Relays, Botswana’s performance sent a strong warning to their competitors as to what to expect at the upcoming World Championships should they have an all fit team.
“We ran very well today. We could have won, but Makwala had a bit of trouble with a muscle. I think we can win gold at the World Championships,” an upbeat Sibanda said at the end of the race.
The same sentiments were shared by Nkobolo. “Our aim was to win gold. Baboloki and Makwala are injured right now, if they were not injured we would be talking a different story right now,” said Nkobolo.
“We are OK for now. We are going home to prepare for the World Championships. I think there we will be OK and we are going to fight for a gold medal,” warned Thebe.
Meanwhile, Botswana ladies team also made the country proud, setting a new national record as they finished sixth in the ladies 4x400m relay final.
Boosted by the return of former World champion Amantle Montsho, Botswana ladies registered an incredible time of 3:30.13 to better their record of 3:31.27, which was set way back in 2012.
The performances saw Botswana finish 11th overall at the World Relays, a good return given the small contingent sent there. (additional reporting; iaaf.com)