The Summer Olympic Games have come and gone; what remains is a post-mortem exercise to determine what went wrong for the Botswana team that failed to win a single medal. The country had arguably the most promising team ever to be sent to the Olympics yet results did not come forth. Despite criticism towards the team Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) officials and even the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Thapelo Olopeng have praised them. BNOC Chief executive Officer Tuelo Serufho said on Thursday that even though the team did not bring home a medal it had performed very well. Serufho said that some set new personal and national records is a sign that the athletes performed to the best of their abilities. “I am very proud of the performance of the team. Even though we did not bring medals home they have performed very well and they need to be commended for the commitment,” said Serufho.
What went wrong?
The team had been given a target of surpassing the London 2012 Olympics achievement of one medal by winning medals in 400m, 800m and the 4 by 400m relay. However all did not go well. When addressing the media team Botswana Chef de Mission, Moses Moruisi, explained that the injuries that hit the team affected it greatly. Two of the athletes were hit by injuries. Without doubt Baloki Thebe and Nigel Amos’ injuries dealt a great blow to the chances of Botswana getting a medal, especially in the 4 by 400m relay. The team coach Justice Dipeba also acknowledged that had the two been available the country could have excelled. Dipeba, however, applauded the team which was made of Isaac Makwala, Karabo Sibanda, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Leaname Maotoanong. Having broken Botswana’s national record twice, it shows how well the team ran. The coach also attested that the boys did all they could. Explaining why he placed the team as he did, starting with strong athletes and finishing with the less strong, Dipeba said he wanted a team which would be chased. “There are two types of relays, the one that chases and the one that will be chased. So I wanted the one that will be chased from the start since the opponents where strong and we would have not stand a chance chasing them,” explained Dipeba.
The way forward
After all that transpired at Rio many in leadership position concur that something needs to be done to make sure the team does well in coming competitions. They acknowledge that preparations have to be started early for the coming competitions. Even president Ian Khama alluded to this on his Facebook page calling for preparations for the 2020 Olympics to start now. However, Serufho made an observation that the interchangeable responsibilities for the team make things a bit difficult. He said after this (Olympics) the team goes back on the hands of Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) and then at some point the responsibility is that of Botswana National Sport Commission for competitions like All Africa Games. According to Serufho, this affects the continued and smooth assessment of the athletes. “May be in the future we (BNOC) should appoint people to work with the team for the four year period. This will help them to work with the team wherever they go to make sure there is continuity,” he said. Maybe if something of the nature had been put in place a long time back Thebe’s injury which he had reportedly been carrying for a year could have been taken care of.
Team Botswana’s physiotherapist Clemente Gaothuse indicated that Thebe‘s injury was not adequately followed up, hence its reoccurrence in Brazil. To further build for the future Minister Olopeng called on sport administrators to come up with a robust developmental programme to develop more athletes. He is of a view that Botswana should be able to send more athletes than just 12 to the Olympics. Olopeng announced that therefore ministry has resolved to introduce athletics at constituency tournaments to try and unearth more talent. The commission has been given until the end of September to give the minister feedback on the matter. “It is important to start focusing on development if we want to start doing well. We have to pull up our socks to make sure that we increase the number of athletes we send to the Olympics,” explained Olopeng.