There will be no love lost between Botswana’s best athletes when they come face to face during the Senn Foods Botswana National Athletics Championships. The championships, which see the best sixteen athletes in each of the 22 categories, face each other for the national crown at the University of Botswana (UB) Stadium this coming Saturday.
If last year’s edition that saw a lot of upcoming athletes uproot their much decorated seniors is anything to go by, this year seems likely to be thrilling as well. With the past year having showcased the talents of the likes of local men’s sprint sensation, Yatea Kambepera, as well as the trio of women sprinters in the mould of Joy Mphato, Gosego Mpeo and Tsaone Sebele, attention will be on which unknown athlete will be the toast of the week at the championships.
At stake will not only be the national crown and the prize money, but also a chance to don national colours and eventually to qualify for the World Championships billed for Russia later this year. Speaking in an interview, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Public Relations Officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, said they expect most of local track stars to grace the national championships. He says as with last year, the BAA is expecting some of Botswana’s foreign-based athletes like Nigel Amos and Isaac Makwala to compete at the race.
“We have already been in contact with them and we are hopeful that they will be competing at the championships,” the BAA PRO said, adding that based on the successes of the past edition both in and outside the field, the BAA is expecting an even better and much improved event this year.
“There is a lot of emerging athletes that are likely to cause upsets during these upcoming championships. These athletes have already proved they have what it takes and it will not come as a surprise if they win,” he said.
Among athletes who will be closely watched is emerging 400m women’s runner Galefele Moroko. The teenager, who is tipped as an heiress to Amantle Montsho’s throne, already staked a claim to the throne during the Sports View Meet this past weekend, clocking an impressive 54:53:00 to win the ladies’ 400m race.
The time means the Sekgoma Community Junior Secondary School student meets the qualifying times for this year’s World Youth Championships and is just 2 seconds outside B Standard qualification for the World Championships.
Other young talents expected to light up the track are Mosah Badubi and Tlhaloganyo Motlamorago.
Meanwhile, after last year’s timer jammer which led to Kambepera not being given the national record despite breaking it, Ramatshaba said there is little that the BAA can do to prevent such an occurrence happening again.
“Timers occasionally fail to work and there is little that can be done as it cannot be foreseen. All we do, therefore, is to have hand timers as back up to ensure we record the times,” he said.