Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) vice president Glody Dube has commended Diacore Gaborone Marathon organisers for their newly introduced development programme for long distance and marathon runners. Dube said the programme will go a long way in addressing the problem the country has been having for years in long distance races. Diacore Gaborone Marathon organisers have set a high level training programme for 10 local top long distance runners. The programme has been formulated by an elite coach. The athletes’ food, amenities and nutritional supplements are provided for. The programme, in which the athletes undergo intense high level training twice a day, started in August 2016. For years local long distance runners have blamed BAA for neglecting their preparations and development, saying resources were only directed towards middle distance and short distance runners. The Diacore Gaborone Marathon athlete running programme is therefore seen as an answer to the athletes’ cries.
Speaking at the launch of the programme on Thursday, Dube said this will help develop high quality athletes for Botswana. He admitted that for a long time Botswana has not been doing well in this field and is hopeful that the programme will be of tremendous help to both the athletes and country. “This will go a long way in benefitting the athletes themselves. It will also help reduce over dependence on government for support,” he said. While he is grateful of Diacore’s initiative, Dube implored more corporate organisations to lend a hand in the development of local athletes. He said athletics is one sporting code that has proven to be the best in the country with recent results attesting to this. “We therefore promise to work hard to make sure that the athletes produce desired results,” he said. Diacore Gaborone Marathon chairperson Thola Magang said the aim of the programme is to develop competitive long distance athletes who conquer regional and international competitions. “Our long term goal is the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. We want to send a strong team there which will bring back some medals,” said Magang. He said the budget for the programme is roughly P300 000 and the programme will become an annual arrangement.
Diacore Managing Director Kfir Teichman said they saw a vacuum in long distance running in Botswana and came up with a way of addressing it. The Gaborone Marathon has been dominated by foreign athletes since it started. Teichman said they want to see local athletes becoming strong contenders of every competition regionally. He is confident that the programme will bring a big change. The vision of the initiative is to build a team of the nation’s very best athletes who will rise to the ranks of national level and ultimately represent the country at international stage. This will be done through close collaboration with Botswana Athletics Association who will act as advisers and guide the programme,” said Teichman. The participating athletes were chosen based on their performance in recent times. The athletes themselves have showed gratitude towards Diacore Gaborone Marathon for the development. The team is made up of Mantshapelo Badumetse (34), Sylvester Koko (20), Gaone Bathoen (21), Sesebo Matlapeng (24), Marea Maano (23), Rapula Diphoko (27), Mema Tiango (25) Amantle Kekganetswe (22), Onkemetse Solotate (38) and Onneile Dintwe (31). The athletes are under the tutelage of Botswana Defence Force Runners Club Raobene Ramosekwa as their coach.