Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Mixed fortunes for Botswana athletes ahead of Commonwealth Games

The teams that will be representing Botswana at the 2014 Commonwealth Games are experiencing mixed fortunes ahead of the sporting extravaganza in Glasgow. While the athletics team seems to be peaking and gaining much needed exposure ahead of the games, things are not so rosy for the local boxing team.

While Botswana’s athletes continue to shine on the international stage, the local boxing team, which is one of the country’s biggest medals prospect alongside athletics has had indifferent preparations. Team Botswana athletes had a brilliant weekend in the international arena this past weekend. Spearheading the local athletes riveting performance was Botswana’s new entrant in the Diamond League, Nijel Amos who continued his fine form this year. The youngster, who holds this year’s fastest time in the men’s 800m event, finished second at the Diamond League meet in Paris over the weekend. Still at the same meet, Botswana’s golden girl, Amantle Montsho came fourth in the 400m race. While her performance was somewhat disappointing, Montsho still has time to prime herself and get ready for the Glasgow games. In what will be an interesting development for Montsho, the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has indicated that her coach, Anthony Koffi, will be part of Team Botswana and will coach her at the Commonwealth Games. This will be a much welcome development for Montsho, especially after the 2012 London Olympic debacle when Montsho missed out on an Olympic medal after both Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) failed to accredit her coach.

Still with athletics, Isaac Makwala and Pako Seribe finished first and second respectively at the Permit Meet in Switzerland as they continued their preparations for the Commonwealth Games. Makwala set the tracks ablaze in the men’s 400m, finishing the race in 44:01 seconds, setting a new African and Botswana record in the process, while Seribe finished second in 45:21 seconds. While morale remains high in the athletics team, things are not going smoothly for the boxing team. After making bold predictions when the boxing team was announced a few weeks back that boxing would bring some medals from the games, morale is said to be low within the camp following the alteration of their preparation schedule. This follows cancellation of the team’s trip to Venezuela two weeks ago to compete at a tournament due to what was said to be lack of funds by the BNOC. The postponement is said to have denied the local boxers some much needed match practice ahead of the games, more especially following their uninspired showing at the Africa Cup in South Africa.

“The most difficult thing is that the BNOC had agreed that we must go to Venezuela to compete there as part of our preparations. It was only when we came back from the Africa Cup and were preparing to leave for Venezuela that we were informed that the trip had been cancelled because there were no funds for the trip,” said a source.

Had they been informed earlier, the boxers would have sacrificed the Africa Cup and prioritized the trip to Venezuela.

“Our boxers have fought against the African boxers and they know what they can offer. What they needed was exposure against some of the best boxers in the world to give them a little taste of what to expect at the Commonwealth Games. But this will never be,” the source continued.

It is said that all that is left is for the local boxing team to try sparring against each other in preparations; something which is will do them no good. Meanwhile, Botswana will send a team of 19 athletes and 17 officials to this year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The team, which will be headed by Letsholo Letsholo, will leave the country for Glasgow this coming Sunday.

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