Athletics stakeholders are in agreement that local athletes need to be supported throughout the year for them to continue doing well. This comes after a brilliant performance by the Botswana’s 4x400m men relay team at the just-ended IAAF World Relays to scoop a silver medal. Speakers at the team’s welcome ceremony on Thursday acknowledged the need for the athletes have continuous support to prepare well for competitions. Even though the team did very well, their coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe believes they can still exceed the current performance. Mogomotsi said the team has done very well to finish in a position they got given the level of competition they were up against. Botswana men relay team beat powerhouses Jamaica and gave United States a scare of a lifetime to finish second at the competition. Otsetswe believes the determination that the team showed at Bahamas only needs to be augmented by the supporting them further to make sure they stay in shape. For a long time there have been worries that the athletes only get attention only when time of competitions are near but abandoned when competitions are over. Otsetswe said as both the men and female relay teams have qualified for the IAAF World Championships, they should continue training for the competition. “These athletes have got a lot of potential and I am confident that they can do much better than they did now. The time is now to see how we can help them to improve further so that they can bring more medals from the world championships,” said Otsetswe. He explained that this can be attained by keeping the athletes in a shape at all times. He pleaded with the stakeholders to help support the team so that they can have trainings and attend competitions that can offer them good practice.
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) president Thari Mooketsi called on the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) to help the association to support the athletes. He complained that even though BAA has about six competitions left to send the athletes to, it does not have sufficient funds for that. BNOC CEO Tuelo Serufho, who congratulated the team for its marvellous job it did in Bahamas, challenged the BAA to train the team well for the coming competitions. Serufho said the performance by the 4x400m men team has increased expectations. He said by beating countries like Jamaica at their game, it means they will go back to the training field to prepare for Botswana. “Even United States is scared; they will be working hard forth next meet. This means that we also should not sit and celebrate great work but we have to go back to the field and prepare the team well for these teams as well,” he said. Serufho concurred with Otsetswe, saying the athletes are capable of even breaking one of the world records in the near future. He, therefore, urged BAA to see to it that the athletes are supported at all times. Serufho said the tradition that used to reign supreme in Botswana where athletes were only supported when major competitions are near and left on their own afterwards needs to be broken for the athletes to start doing well.