*Thebe out due to injury
*Makwala missed out on qualifying for the championships
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.
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.
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