Commonwealth Games are calling. And Botswana team for the games has already been named. Headlining it without doubt is Olympic silver medalist – the local wonderkid Nijel Amos – who had the nation tripping over in fear that he was lost to athletics, ditching it for his other passion of deejaying. Thankfully he has come to his senses and postponed the night club activity for the athletics track in the meantime when his youthful legs can pay him millions of Pula. I am with the happy battalion for his decision.
In the first few races he has featured in this year, he has already proven his great athletic ability – winning the IAAF Diamond League race in Oregon last month. It was exciting to watch him racing to victory in Oregon where he beat the Olympic champion David Rudisha among others. That his final push in the home stretch had power and pace was a relief and one hopes that in the days leading to the Commonwealth Games he would have worked even harder on his speed. He will be racing at the Paris version of the IAAF Diamond League meet this weekend. And with this standing out as one of the last major events before the start of the Commonwealth Games, every athlete would be fine-tuning their game plan for the Glasgow, Scotland showdown.
At just 20 years, there is no denying that Nijel has a big athletics career ahead of him. Provided he remains focused and is lucky to avoid injuries he has three more Olympics to compete in. Having won a silver medal in his first Olympics, there is every chance that he will be able to improve on the medal before he retires from the sport. Our team is stronger with him. We go to Glasgow believing that his medal is almost given – the question is more about the quality of it. We hope it will be gold. Being ranked the leading athlete in 800m in the world ahead of the games; is inspirational on its own for Nijel. It however carries with it the added pressure of being targeted.
The set target of seven medals is realisable looking into the quality of players included in the team. Amantle has not had the best IAAF Diamond League season so far, continuously being beaten at the finishing line by younger competitors. She is currently ranked fourth in the world in her 400m event and one hopes that she has been attending to the finishing challenges she has been facing. She has previously switched to shorter distances – 200m – to improve her speed and one hopes that she has considered a similar mix in her training to add pace and endurance so as to be well geared for gold in Glasgow.
Isaac Makwala, the 400m national record holder, has been on top form in recent months – breaking the national record a number of times. We trust he will be taking this form to Glasgow. Allister Walker is a squash player of class and there is every reason to believe that he will rise to the occasion and bring home a medal.
Oteng Oteng from boxing is well experienced to box his way into the medal category. I trust every member of the team has had sufficient preparation to stake a claim for the best position on offer. As a country we are yet to be in the elite class of the sporting world. However, it is through individual brilliance that from time to time we have our national anthem played in the biggest sporting stage. It will be more than glorifying to have at least one such moment in Glasgow. When the national anthem plays in such an occasion, among the world’s greatest sporting nations, and one sees the national flag being hoisted high tears of national pride easily go down the athlete and many patriots’ cheeks. We ask for such a special moment once more!