Following an impressive performance by junior athletes at the Africa Youth Games and the just ended Youth Olympic Games, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is now looking at developing these athletes for the future. BAA’s Sport Development Officer, Gable Garenamotse, revealed that the association is now looking at developing best performing athletes for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Some of the athletes who will benefit from this include the likes of Karabo Sibanda and Baboloki Thebe who recently made the country proud at the Nanjing Youth Olympics by winning two silver medals in the 400m and 200m respectively.
The emergence of Sibanda and Thebe, among others, demonstrates the abundance of talent in the country. All that they now need is support and to be put thorough development programmes to make sure that they grow into elite athletes just like the likes of Nigel Amos and Isaac Makwala who are continuing to do well in the international arena.
Garenamotse said the association is developing a long-term development programme to prepare athletes for the 2020 Olympics. “We are now targeting to build a strong team for the 2020 Olympics and all the other competitions in between will be used as the preparatory events for this,” said Garenamotse.
He acknowledged that most of the upcoming athletes are still students and that their education always comes first. He, however, said the association is doing well to try to blend the two together by taking advantage of the schools of excellences. Promising athletes are often taken to one school where they will be trained at all times. Good Hope Senior Secondary is one of the schools of excellences that performing students are taken to. According to Garenamotse, most of the upcoming athletes who are making headlines at the moment including Sibanda and Thebe are based there.
He further pointed that there is funding available for high performing athletes from the Olympic Solidarity Fund which upcoming stars could be funded through to go to high performance centres. BAA intends to continue taking advantage of this fund for the young athletes. In the past a number of local athletes benefited from this fund. These include the likes of former world 400m woman champion Amantle Montsho, Amos and Makwala.
Even though it is highly likely that Sibanda and Thebe will one day benefit from such funding through the recommendations of BAA, Garenamotse said instead of sending athletes outside the country maybe as time goes on, they will ask for funds to set up high performance centres in Botswana. By so doing, he explained that more local athletes would have the chance to train at the centres. He said, “This could work very well for us as Amos proved that athletes can do well even when they are based locally before he moved to South Africa”.