The Paralympics Association of Botswana (PASSOBO) has sent a team of nine athletes to the 6th International Athletics Meeting of Tunis (SIAMT) to try and qualify them for the London 2012 Paralympics Games which are to be held from the 22nd August ÔÇô 09th September 2012.
The SIAMT games are sanctioned by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) as this year’s London Paralympics qualifiers. The team, which includes five officials left the country on Thursday afternoon for Tunis, Tunisia, and is expected back in the country on the 31st of this month.
Speaking in an interview, PASSOBO President, Thuso Rasetapa, said the nine athletes going to the Tunis qualifiers will be composed of six visually impaired athletes, two physically handicapped and one intellectually challenged athlete.
While in Tunisia, the team will be expected to take part in three processes, namely licensing of athletes, classification as well as the actual competitions. “For athletes to take part in Paralympics, they need to be licensed or to get an international Paralympics licence. This is the first process that the athletes will take part in, starting next week Monday when in Tunisia,” Rasetapa said.
He added that once licensed, the athletes will go through a classification process. “These two processes of licensing and classification are done to determine the type of disabilities of the athletes so as to determine the categories in which they can compete,” the PASSOBO President explained. He says once these formalities have been done and athletes have been licensed, only then will athletes be expected to take part in the actual competitions. Concerning the team’s preparations ahead of the crucial qualifiers, the PASSOBO President says while the team has had only a short training camp, it has however trained well enough to compete.
“These athletes have been training at their various centres and were only called into camp since last week Saturday,” Rasetapa said.
He, however, says while finances have always been a problem for the sport, which he says is the most expensive and the most hard hit by recession, the team has found great help from the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) who are assisting them in every possible way to help them qualify for London 2012 Paralympics.
“At the same time, we thank them, we also wish to thank AT & T Monnakgotla who have subsidised our travelling tickets as well as the IPC who have arranged the visas for us for no charge,” Rasetapa added. The Botswana athletes team is composed of Tuelo Ramaeba, Tshotlego Golden, Kebasentse Otlhakanye (all three – 100 & 200m), Ezekiel Mojenje, Phetogo Maotwanyane (Both- 800 & 1500m) and Keatlaretse Mabote (400m) who are visually impaired as well as Kgosietsile Motlhaping and Bonolo Leburu (100 & 200m) who are physically handicapped athletes and use wheel chairs for competition. Intellectual challenged Babusi Chinyanga (100 & 200m) completes the team.
The team will be led by Olesitse Copper Botshwanetse (Team Manager), Obakeng Busang (Coach) as well as two caretakers and a doctor.