Monday, January 17, 2022

Road to Poland Cross Country Championships starts now

The long road to World Cross Country Championships, due in Poland next year, will start next weekend when local cross-country runners start their preparations to qualify for the major event.

With the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) having now officially released their cross country calendar of events for the 2012/2013 season, the onus is now with athletes to prove they have what it takes to represent the country.

Speaking in an interview, BAA’s Public Relations Officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, said the season will start with races in Tonota and Molepolole over the coming weekend. The first race, a 15 km road race known as the Adam Morapedi Road Race, will be hosted by the Francistown Athletics Club in Tonota on Saturday, while on the same day, Molepolole Athletics Club will host 10 km ladies Road Race.

The two races will open the way for the three series cross country races, which will present local athletes with a chance to qualify for the cross country national championships.

Ramatshaba said that the national championships will be by invitation only and only athletes who will have participated and performed well during the three series cross country races will be invited.

“For athletes to be invited, they must have competed and performed well in at least two series events of the three,” Ramatshaba said.

Jwaneng and Francistown will host the first series of the cross country races for the Southern and Northern regions, respectively on the 17th of November. The second series of the races will then be hosted by Lefika Athletics Club and Maun BDF Athletics Club for the Southern and Northern regions in Mochudi and Maun, respectively, on the 8th of December while the third and last series will be hosted in Gaborone and Orapa on the 12th of January next year.

The event will then be followed by the National Cross Country championships, which will be hosted by BAA in Mochudi on the 26th of January.

Ramatshaba said that only athletes who make it to the National championships will stand a chance to qualify for the Southern African regional championships and will stand a chance to qualify for the World Cross Country championships in Poland. He added that the national finals will be used to select a team that will represent Botswana at the Southern African regional championships, which will be held in Maseru, Lesotho on the 23rd and 24th of February next year.

Ramatshaba said with the country seeking to place itself high on the world cross country map, the BAA is seeking to take a big contingent to Lesotho for the Southern Regional meet.

“Our intention is to take a large team and if we do well, we would also be looking at taking a team that can compete to the World championships,” the BAA PRO explained. “For the first time, we want to take a team to enhance our chance of getting an international ranking,” Ramatshaba said. He said that past experience has taught them that not having a complete three-man team for the championships is not ideal if they are to get a good ranking.

“If you look at the past championships, our two athletes did better but were let down by a lack of having a team,” the BAA PRO explained. He said an example was South Africa who had three runners, of which only one of them finished ahead of the two Botswana athletes but ended up having a better ranking. With the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) sending invitations as to the number of athletes each country can take at the expense of the IAAF, Ramatshaba said BAA will be willing to pay for some of its athletes if they perform well to ensure Botswana has a complete team for the World Championships. He, however, said any more additions to the team will also depend on the availability of funds in the coffers of the BAA. The World Cross Country Championships will be held in Poland on the 24th of March next year.

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