It was a classic case of mind over matter as Botswana’s 400m woman athlete, Christine Botlogetswe on Saturday ran her way into the Botswana Olympic team bound for Rio 2016.
The race which ensured another addition to Botswana’s biggest athletics Olympic team ever was won in the locker room even before the starting blocks.
After narrowly failing to qualify in the semi finals of the same race during the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) National Champions earlier on the day, the 21 year old opted for a tactical race in the finals, clocking 52.17 seconds and booking her ticket to Rio.
Unlike in the semi-finals where she went all out in the first three rounds and could not kick into gear in the last hundred, the athlete and her coach had to device a new strategy for the finals and it worked like magic. “My coach gave me a race plan, I followed it and I emerged victorious,” an emotional Botlogetswe said in a post race interview. “Just before the race started, my coach advised me to go hard on the curve, relax on the straight, go hard again when reaching the last 150metres then relax in the last 100m and that is exactly what I did,” Botlogetswe explained.
Starting on the fourth lane, ‘Size 10′ or ‘Big Size,’ as Botlogetswe is affectionately known, was explosive off the blocks and was almost neck to neck with the runners in the lanes ahead of hers after the first curve. Just as instructed, she then kicked into gear in the last 150m and showed her competitors a clear pair of heels to reach the finish line and guarantee herself a seat in the Rio bound plane.
Commenting on Botlogetswe’s Olympic qualifying performance, the Botswana Olympic team coach, Justice Dipeba, said they had to make slight changes to her race plan for the finals for her to qualify. “We tried to qualify in the semi finals and she went too hard in the first 300m and forgot what to do in the last 100m. She was too tense,” Dipeba said of the semi-final race. Going into the final however, the coach said they tweaked her race plan a bit and it worked out. “After failing to qualify in the semi finals, we went back to the drawing boards and decided that we will do the same thing we did in the semi finals but we had to do it differently. We made sure that we run the first 100m quickly and then cruise when in the straight until we reach the last 150m mark, then press again coming out of the curve and make sure everything is in control. If you look at the two races, you will see she was more relaxed when she hit the last 100m in the final race than she was in the semi finals,” Dipeba explained. With qualification now in the bag, Botlogetswe says her focus for now will be on improving her times ahead of the Olympics. “My intention is now to improve my times. I believe I can run this race in 50 seconds this year and that is my target,” Botlogetswe concluded.