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ATHLETICS GOING FOR GLORY AS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS EDGES CLOSER

SHARE   |   Thursday, 12 September 2019   |   By Baitshepi Sekgweng
Baboloki Thebe and Issac Makwala Baboloki Thebe and Issac Makwala

*Thebe out due to injury

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*Makwala missed out on qualifying for the championships

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Following    a great   showing at the Africa games  in Morocco last month  Botswana athletics team is bracing up  for a tougher challenge   at the IAAF World Championships   which  are slated for  Doha, Qatar  from the 27th  of September  until  October  the 6th . The team which is currently in camp and under the leadership of  coach  Justice   Dipeba  comprise of Galefele Moroko and Christine Botlogetswe  in the ladies  team ,Ditiro Nzamani, Leungo Scotch, Baboloki Thebe, Nijel Amos and  the  4x400m relay  teams. Both relay teams qualified for the   biennial tournament   following a spirited hard work   to maintain their spots   within the top 16 of the world rankings. When qualification closed on the  6th of September   the ladies team was  ranked  12th  while their  male counterparts  were ranked   15th  a  feat which  was  quite   challenging  considering that  the  team  had  to attend in events in England, Bahamas and Cameroon to  gain points.

However the sad part is that the team will be without   Thebe   who has been   ruled out   due to an injury though he initially qualified for the tournament. The 22 year old  sustained a hamstring  injury   during the  Africa  games  therefore  he will miss out on this world  show piece since he will be out for close to  six week  for treatment and recuperation. Despite   the injury  Thebe  had a season   to  forget  this  year  which  was  marred by a couple of  injuries and   fluctuating   results more especially at the  IAAF Diamond League  series. Another popular athlete who will miss   the  competition   is Isaac Makwala  who failed to qualify for the  showpiece following  attempts at the Africa games and in Belgium .Following the last attempt for him to  secure  qualification in Brussels on  deadline day(6th of September) Badman finished on 5th  position  with a time of 46.55 seconds against   the  qualifying  standard of  45.30.

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Despite this, the  team will be oozing with  great  confidence following  a  spirited performance  where they   won  four  medals being  three  gold and one silver. In addition Amos and Botlogetswe has been  on great  form  this season  as evidenced  by their good   exploits  at the   Diamond League   series therefore   expectation is that they will  rise up to the occasion and continue  where  they left. According to team coach Dipeba the team has proved their mettle in the international stage.

“This is the   very same team that we used at the  Africa games and they are top athletes  so  the  expectation is they are ready for the  challenge .We might be missing   the likes of Makwala, Thebe and Sibanda  but this is a very  youthful team which  we want to develop  such  that    there is continuity in having   great athletes  here. So at this point in time  we cannot be worried that  we are missing other athletes ,there is no need to press panic buttons  because this  happens in sports, sometimes you will  lose your  best athletes due to injuries but health comes first so we cannot   use our  athletes  while  not in a good shape just for the  sake  of winning medals. So   I’m happy with the team and every result they will bring I will be happy with it,” said Dipeba.

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For his part Botswana Athletics Association(BAA)  president  Botlhale Phaphane  said as the executive they  have not set  any target  for the team to avoid  putting pressure on the athletes and there is no any  international camp planned.  “Initially we had planned for an international camp in Morocco but since most of our athletes were in Morocco some few weeks back we scrapped of the idea. But instead we decided that the team will camp here in Botswana considering   that the Doha climate is similar to ours here. So we felt that it was better to pull the team together since most of them were scattered. We don’t want to put   them under pressure with targets because we realized those are some of the factors which sometimes lead to our athletes not performing well so we just want them to go and run,” he said.

In the last World Championships in London in 2017 Team Botswana returned home empty   handed after failing to win any medal. The competition was also marred by controversy   after Makwala was barred for competing in some races due to   noro virus scare. However   it remains to be seen if the team will rise to the occasion, redeem themselves and bring medals homes    



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