Friday, June 21, 2024

Will Athletics Be Botswana’s Sole Representative at The Paris 2024 Olympics? 

Following the failure by Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) to qualify athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics, athletics now stands as the country’s sole hope for the upcoming summer Olympics games. 

So far, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has already qualified six athletes as well as the men’s 4X400m relay team. Qualified athletes are Letsile Tebogo in the men’s 100m, 200m and 400m, Bayapo Ndori, Leungo Scotch and Collen Kebinatshipi in 400m, as well as Tshepiso Masalela and Kethobogile Hanguira in 800m. 

The decrease in the number of sporting codes heading to the Paris Summer Olympics should be a concern. It highlights the drop in performance and quality by local athletes. At the Tokyo Olympics, Botswana sent four sporting codes, namely, athletics, boxing, swimming and boxing. 

While Botswana only managed to bring one medal from Tokyo, which was a bronze by the men’s 4X400m relay team, there was a diversity in the sporting codes represented. This was seen as a sign of growth.

Sport Journalist and Summer Kids Marathon director, Martin Fani says this points to a regression in the local sport scene. He says ever since Tokyo Olympics, Botswana sport ‘has been operating on autopilot’ and on a downward spiral.

On what could have led the country to send only athletics to present the nation, Fani said the blame lies with sports administrators and leaders. He says they have forgotten athletes and are only looking at themselves. 

“Sport is run by administrators, however of late the attention has been moved from athletes to administrators. They are looking at themselves and their position. Some are busy fighting to secure certain positions and being part of bigger boards and they have completely forgotten the reason why they are there and whom they are there for. They just want to take the limelight more than athletes hence they are just fine with how badly we have performed regarding qualifying for Olympics,” Fani elaborates. 

According to him, sports leaders have a tendency of setting goals and targets, yet failing to work towards them. He says they fail to put in effort and invest resources towards the goals they set. 

Another major factor in the failure, according to Fani, is the pronounced lack of finances. He says this has played a huge role in sporting codes’ failures as they had limited opportunities to help athletes to qualify.  

“We are faced with lack of finances in sport. The little we have is depleted by endless travels by administrators. Our governing body is aware of lack of finances yet they were all dragging their feet in assisting athletes. Now they are busy running with incentives for those who have qualified.” 

“Boxing like athletics, should never have had a problem with qualifying. But we missed crucial tournaments which could have helped our boxers to qualify. It is very difficult to try and qualify at international level and they know. All these failures point to leaders and administration,” Fani adds. 

Fani says going forward, leaders in sport and administrators must shift their focus and concentrate on what is the most important, being athletes. “Imagine if it was not for athletes like Letsile Tebogo who are currently flying our flag high. We could be telling a worse story. Our sport needs help and very fast. Imagine a sporting code being given P30 00.00 as a yearly grant. What should they do with it? Many sporting codes have missed crucial tournaments which could have aided then to qualify,” he concludes.

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