Sunday, May 22, 2022

‘BAA doing little to nurture Botswana’s track stars’ ÔÇô claim

For the past few years, Botswana has been making international strides in athletics. Local athletes are proving to be forces to reckon with against seasoned athletes who are always making international headlines.

The first athlete who slowly earned Botswana admiration was triple and long jumper, Gable Garenamotse.

By the time he was calling it a day, another youngster in the track was already putting country in the world map. Amantle Montsho would take over from Garenamotse and made the world recognize that there is talent in Botswana.

She is one of the top faces in the 400 metres and her fierce rivals include the likes of American, Allyson Felix, Briton, Christine Ohuruogu and Jamaican, Sanya Richards.

Montsho won Botswana’s the first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, before repeating the feat at the World Athletics championships a year later in Daegu, South Korea.

As Montsho heads for the twilight of her career, the irrepressible Nijel Amos has already proved he can take over to continue holding Botswana flag aloft in the 800 metres.

At the age of 20, Amos won Botswana’s first ever Olympic medal two years ago in London ÔÇô a silver medal, after nipping at the heels of current world record holder, Kenya’s David Rudisha. This year, Amos has given Rudisha a tough time, winning gold at the recent commonwealth Games.

He marked a year of fine sparkling form by emerging winner in the Diamond League series. Rudisha has trailed Amos, something that shows that the 20-year-old Amos is in pole position to win Gold at the 2016 Olympic scheduled for Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Behind Amos are two other promising youngsters who have already made names for themselves in major youth international competitions.

Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda are still secondary school going athletes, aged 14 and 13 respectively, and look destined to even solidify Botswana’s position in international competitions. Thebe is the rising star in the 200m with Sibanda sparkling in the 400m.
Just few weeks back, they brought silver medals from the youth Olympics held in Nanjing, China.

However, while a bright future awaits the young athletes, there are concerns that the local athletic body, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) does not have mechanisms in place to deal with rising youngsters destined for international stardom.

After winning a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic, Amos was always in the news for all the wrong reasons and with other young strong athletes coming up, there are fears that they might not realize their full potential if the BAA does not do much to safeguard the athletes’ careers.

Publicity officer of the BAA, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, told Sunday Standard that they are doing all they could to take care of future diamonds. He said they cannot just watch athletes going off the rails.

“To start with look at what Amos is doing. It is because we are doing what is best for him. He is currently training at the high performance centre in Potchestroom in South Africa and is also studying at the same time. We have made sure that running does not in any way clash with his studies,” he said.

With regard to Thebe and Sibanda, who are still at senior secondary, Ramatshaba said they are currently negotiating with the government to have full-time coaches who can visit the athletes frequently so that they do not lose shape along the way.

“As BAA we have made Mogoditshane and Goodhope senior secondary schools our schools of excellences. That is where both students are studying and we always make sure they get what they need always. Even our sports development officer, Garenamotse frequently visits them. This shows how serious we are with our already established athletes and those who are rising,” he said.

Ramatshaba also stressed that apart from Thebe and Sibanda, there are many more upcoming youngsters who will also be the toast of the nation in years to come.

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