Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Koffi, Thebe smoke peace pipe

Botswana’s 400m sprint sensation Baboloki Thebe and his Ivorian coach Anthony Koffi have reportedly resolved their differences and agreed to work together again. The athlete and trainer had allegedly fallen out over the former’s inability to adhere to agreed training schedules.

However, following the mending of their relationship, Thebe jetted off to Ivory Coast this weekend and is expected to immediately kick start his training program in preparation for the upcoming IAAF World championships.

Sources allege the Ivorian sprint coach wanted to part ways with Thebe after he failed to return to Ivory Coast at the beginning of November to resume training as agreed. Thebe’s failure to return to training allegedly prompted Koffi to set him an end of November deadline to arrive back for training, failing which would be the end of their working relationship.

The athlete relocated to Ivory Coast just a few months ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to sharpen and enhance chances of qualifying for the World sporting spectacle. Thebe however failed to make the cut in individual events but still travelled to the games as part of the men’s 4x 400m relay team which ultimately brought home a bronze medal. It is alleged that lack of fitness played a key role in Thebe’s failure to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in individual disciplines.

While he returns to training, sources indicate that the sprinter’s failure to kick start his training as agreed and on schedule is set to cost him opportunities of competing against the best in Europe. “It is not only one of the best coaches in the athletics arena that Thebe was risking to lose here. A lot was at stake. His manager Stefano Cugusi is also worried that his lack of fitness is affecting his performance,” the source said.

According to the source, Cugusi had allegedly lined up some few races for the athlete this upcoming season but was gradually losing confidence on the sprinter. “Thebe has not competed in the past Diamond league season and other major championships despite endorsements such as that of Nike which needs the athlete to regularly be on the track,’’ narrated a source.

The Italian Cugusi manages some of the best athletes in the World in the likes of 800m runner Nigel Amos, Ethiopian marathon runner Birhani Dibaba and Kenyan Elisha Rotich. Under Cugusi’s management, Thebe was able to agree an endorsement deal with Nike and also secure international races.

Reached out for comment, Thebe downplayed the situation and informed this publication that he never had differences with his coach. He said the only challenge he had was with his Visa. “Everything is in place now as I will be leaving this weekend. I had challenges acquiring my Visa and my coach together with the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) assisted me a lot. The truth is that I should have long gone but the predicament was with the travelling documents. Now that things are sorted, my focus will be preparing for the World championships,’’ Thebe told Sunday Standard.


Read this week's paper