With the 2017 IAAF World Championships running from 4-13 August 2017 in London, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is targeting at least six medals from the competition. Botswana has sent arguably the strongest team ever to the championships, hence the high hopes. A strong 12-member team made up six men and six women will be representing Botswana in the 400m men and women category and the women and men 4x400m relays. Given strong athletes sent to the championships, BAA officials are optimistic that the team will bring home at least six medals. BAA president Thari Mooketsi said they are sure of at least one medal from all the categories that Botswana has representation in. Mooketsi said they are certain of a medal from the 400m men’s category from either Isaac Makwala or Baboloki Thebe. In the 400m women category Mooketsi pinned the hopes on Lidia Jele to get either a silver or bronze medal. Other medals, according to him will come from the 800m runner Nijel Amos and both 4x400m relay teams. He said they are happy with how preparations of the team went with the current performance of the athletes giving them hope that the medals will be attained. Looking at the recent performances of the local athletes at competitions prior to the championships, BAA’s target is not totally shocking. This publication would however like to differ a little bit with the BAA president on the medal count and where they will come from. As it stands Team Botswana is likely to bring home four medals from men’s 4x400m relay, the men’s 400m and the 800m races.
Even though the team suffered a setback with the injury of one of its members Boitumelo Masilo, it still stands a good chance of bringing home a medal. Masilo has been replaced with Nijel Amos who is currently on top form. All the six runners that make the team have proven to be strong competitors. The relay team has always shown its strength and is capable of challenging for the world championship gold medal. The team made headlines at the 2016 Doha Diamond League invite where it won a gold medal. As the African champions the relay team went on to the IAAF World Relays in Bahamas in April 2017 and scooped an impressive silver medal behind the USA. The team is expected to continue where it left by getting a medal at the IAAF World Championships. Having already outclassed Jamaica, the team will be battling it out with USA team for the gold medal.
FINAL VERDICT: Silver medal
This event is going to be the highlight of the World Championships. It is the category that Botswana has always proven to be deadly in. The likes of Baboloki Thebe, Isaac Makwala and Karabo Sibanda have been doing well in this one. This publication would like to agree with the BAA president that Botswana will have at least three runners in the finals. Of the three above only Sibanda might be questioned following the injury he suffered at a diamond league event. However, prior the injury he was on top form and since he has been announced fit again, anything can happen from him. Makwala is in the form of his life. It is certainly now or never for him to get a medal from the world championships. His recent explosive performances in the diamond league have shown how hungry he is for glory. It is for this reason that he will run his lungs out to reach the finals. The recent Monaco diamond league meet is likely to be recreated as Makwala will be looking to outclass the Olympic gold medallist Wayde Van Niekerk. Thebe, on the other hand, is fighting to prove his worth. He is a strong young runner who has great capability and strength. Just like Makwala, Thebe has had a great preparation prior the competition. He qualified for the finals of the Diamond League with the highest points and remains a strong contender. He is currently the 400m African champion
FINAL VERDICT: Two medals
In Botswana when one mentions the men’s 800m race only the name of Nigel Amos comes to mind. The 2012 Olympic silver medallist will be looking to bank a medal at the world championship. Since relocating to the United States, Amos has come back to his form. The former Diamond league 800m champion has recently demonstrated that he is still capable of winning. His change in tactic in the race has worked wonders for him and is expected to work for him at the world championships. Though he would easily break into the finals his biggest threat will be Kenyan Olympic gold medallist David Rudisha. The rivalry between the two will be ignited. It is this rivalry that will push Amos even harder to finish in the podium position.
FINAL VERDICT: Gold medal
Other runners in Team Botswana are equally strong. Lidia Jele for example is a strong competitor and has worked hard to qualify. However, competition in the women 400m race looks very tough. She might reach the finals but a medal chances look very slim for her. As for the women’s 4x400m relay team though it is made up of strong runners it is going to be a high toll for it to finish in a podium position. The team qualified for the world championships after qualifying for the finals of the IAAF World Relays but finished in position 6. Unless the team comes with an element of surprise, it will be unlikely that they will come back with a medal.
Team Botswana schedule
5 August 2017
400m men heats (morning session)
800m men heats (afternoon session)
6 August 2017
400m men semi-finals (morning session)
800m men semi-finals (Afternoon session)
400 m women heats (morning session)
8 August 2017
400m men finals (evening)
800m men finals (evening)
9 August 2017
400m women finals (evening)
12 August 2017
Men 4x400m relay heats
Women 4x400m relay heats
13 August 2017
Women 4x400m relay finals
Men 4x400m relay finals