Saturday, June 19, 2021

“We are in need of coaches” field athletes lament

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) may be reaping good rewards from track events, but it seems they may have also missed a golden opportunity in field events. 

Beyond the highs and lows of sport, the is always that one important person that polishes the raw talent and passion to excel and reach a podium finish, a ‘coach’. 

While BAA has invested so much into producing and keeping excellent track events coaches, there is a feeling the same has not been done for field events.

This has led to some field athletes feeling they are being sidelined, resulting in their dreams and passion dying before they can even start.

Despite this, field athletes are striving to reach the pinnacle of their dreams as witnessed during the recent BAA national championships.

At the event, Norman Chibane of Lobatse Athletics Academy (LAC) managed to surpass the 7.80m threshold set to qualify for the Africa Championships as he registered a jump of 7. 98m.

In the women section, Kendy Theetso of University of Botswana Athletics Club (UBAC) won with a 5.21m jump but fell short of qualifying for any major championship.

While both athletes were happy with their wins, they however had one common concern, being a lack of a coach. 

According to Theetso, long jump has always been her first love but had to stop doing due to lack of competition and a coach. 

Ahead of the recent BAA national championships, Theetso said she had set her eyes in competing in the 400m race only.

A recollection of her days in long jump however propelled her to give the event a try again with the hope of igniting her passion and returning to it again. 

“I am happy I did long jump I realized my passion for it is still there, but truth is I been training only for the 400m race,” she explained. 

“Even though I came out top, my performance was poor. I just need to work on my technique and just maybe I could really do much better,” she said. 

The long jumper attributed her ‘poor performance’ to a lack of a coach as well as a lack of competitions in Botswana.

“We do not have a coach and it is very hard for a jumper in this country to go out and compete in other countries because field events in this country are rated to nothing,” Theetso explained. 

“Basically, there is no competition. If there was a tight competition, it would be easy to obtain the record set for us because we will be pushing each other,” she added. 

Theetso said no athlete can find motivation to jump beyond his or her current personal best if others do not push them to perform better. 

“If the set distance is 6.15m and jumpers on average do 3.00m to 4.34m, that is not motivating as the mind registers that 6.15m is an impossible target,” she said.

Theetso expressed a wish for field athletes with potential to be afforded opportunities to compete outside the country as ‘competing amongst ourselves’ does not bring so much improvement.

“Sometimes we do not jump because they say we are not many and this kills us completely. I am still doing long jump because I love it and I know I have the potential to do great. All we plead for are coaches,” she said.

For Chibane, he believes he has the ability to do much better and may be qualify for the Olympics if he gets to compete in ‘one or two’ major competitions.

Like Theetso, the lanky jumper said he would kill to have a coach to regularly guide him to reach his best potential.

The athlete believes his impressive performances which have now put him in the national team would help him.

“I am beyond happy that I have qualified for the Africa Championships this means I have to move to Gaborone to be able to train and better my performance,” an elated Chibane said. 

In her parting shot, Theetso said as diverse as sport is, people in leadership should be diverse to keeping in mind that no one is the same, not everyone will excel in track events. 

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