Sunday, March 7, 2021

So near yet so far as Botswana fails to reach medal target

When Team Botswana left for the 11th Africa Games at Congo Brazzaville, their target was simple; bring home twenty medals. After Botswana failed to reach the target at the 10th Africa Games in Mozambique four years earlier, this year’s target seemed fair. Back at the Mozambique hosted games; Botswana managed to garner 16 medals, just four short of the set target.

But with a highly talented young team sent to this year’s games, expectations were high that the target would be achieved, or maybe even surpassed. But as it turned out, Botswana failed to reach the target, and on the contrary, they even fell two medals short of their last games’ medal haul. Sunday Standard reporter Botlhale Koothupile looks at how team Botswana performed.

Athletics

Long touted as Botswana’s best performing code and the most widely expected to bring home most of the medals, the athletics team was tasked with bringing home most of the medals. Going to this year’s games, athletics was expected to bring home nine (9) medals, of which four should have been gold, two silver and three bronze. While they delivered most of the medals as expected, the code has however fallen short of its mandated medal target, winning six medals. Of these medals, three are gold, 2 are silver and one is bronze. Despite this being short of the mandated target, it is an improvement from the performance of Botswana Athletics at the 2011 games. Back then, Botswana Athletics managed to bring home 5 medals, one gold, one silver and three bronze, with the gold coming through Amantle Montsho, who was by then the only star athlete in the Botswana team.

For this year’s 50th anniversary games, Botswana sent a star studded team and the results have been better with the trio of Isaac Makwala, Nijel Amos and Kabelo Kgosiemang all getting gold medals. Another improvement for Botswana Athletics has been in the relays where both men and women’s 400x400m relays garnered silver medals, a first for the ladies and a much needed upgrade for the men who got bronze in the event at the Mozambique All Africa Games. The downside however has been in the men’s 4x100m relay that finished outside the medal positions after they won bronze at the past Africa Games. Overall, this has been a very promising display by the Botswana team, with many of the athletes, more especially the ladies and the upcoming young athletes making the finals.

Boxing

At the 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique, a very experienced boxing team was sent and brought home three medals, one gold, a silver and a bronze. Botswana’s experienced trio of Oteng Oteng, Mmoloki Nogeng and Gomotsang Gaasite won gold, silver and bronze respectively at the games. For this year’s games, none of the three pugilists made the Botswana Boxing team, with up and coming boxers making most of the team. While the young boxers had impressed prior to the games, they were found wanting on the biggest continental arena and as a result, boxing managed to get only two medals out of its mandated target of three medals. Whereas they were expected to bring home a gold medal and two silvers, the team only managed to bring home the two silvers, thanks to Kagiso Bagwasi and Zibani Chikanda.

Karate

As with Athletics and Boxing, this is one code that has always flown Botswana’s flag high on the international arena and more of the same was expected. Known to deliver, Karate was set a target of four (4) medals to bring home from the games. Of these, two medals were to be gold while the other two would have been silver and bronze. However, just like they did in 2011, Karate brought home five (5) medals, one silver and four bronze. While missing out on the two gold medal targets, the code has however surpassed their target number by a single medal. Botswana’s only silver medal in Karate came through Lame Hetanang in the ladies Kumite, while Ofentse Bakwadi, who had won Botswana Karate’s only silver medal in 2011, together with Thato Malunga, Merrilynn Manthe and the Ladies team Kata made of  Malunga, Baone Radiposo and Tsholofelo Maduma brought home bronze medals.

Swimming

Despite being set a two medals target, one silver and a bronze, not a lot was expected from the code. These games were always going to be a learning curve for the Botswana Swimming team which made its debut in the continental showpiece. While ultimately failing to meet their target, the Botswana Swimming team made an early impression as Naomi Ruele won the country’s first medal of the 2015 Africa Games. The United States of America (USA) based swimmer came second in the ladies 50m backstroke event, winning silver in the process.

Other Sports

It was a mixed bag for Botswana’s other sporting codes as they struggled to add to Botswana’s medal tally. In the absence of the Chess team, which garnered three medals for the country at the last Africa Games, none of the other sporting codes represented in Team Botswana made the podium. However, it is worth noting that while they failed to finish in the medal positions, some like the Botswana ladies’ volleyball team made an impression as they put forth some impressive displays. 

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