Two more Botswana athletes qualify for London

By Bakang Mhaladi

GABORONE – Former African 400m champion, Isaac Makwala and Christine Botlogetswe became the latest Botswana athletes to qualify for the London World Championships after the local nationals over the weekend. This brings to seven the number of local athletes who will make the trip to London.

Makwala was surprisingly a later qualifier, but the veteran runner, who finished fifth in the finals of the last World Championships in China, said he was unfazed.

“I was never bothered. I usually peak around May and I knew I would ultimately qualify. From here I am going to train hard and if I stay injury free, I am confident of bringing back a medal (from London). I came fifth in Beijing and I am can do better than that this time around,” Makwala said.

Makwala crossed the line in 44:92 in the semi final heat, to beat the 45:50 qualifying standard time set by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). The deadline for qualification is July 22 for the August competition.

Two other 400m male runners, Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda have already qualified, while in the 800m, Nijel Amos has booked his space.

Meanwhile, Botlogetswe joined her compatriots, Amantle Montsho and Lydia Jele as the female athletes who have qualified for the World Championships, after she finished second in the local nationals.

Botlogetwe locked 51:82 to beat the qualifying time of 52:10 as she finished behind the rejuvenated Montsho. It was Botlogetswe’s personal best and she would look to make an impression at the London meet after a commendable run at last year’s Rio Olympics.

She has been trying in vain to qualify since the start of the year, but finally came good on Saturday with her best 400m run.

“I am very happy, it is now back to training and see how it goes,” Botlogetswe said.

Meanwhile, field athletes have complained about poor treatment at the hands of the local athletics body, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA).

They say the mother body favours their track counterparts after the field events were neglected and started late on Saturday. Athletes were forced to set up equipment while other events such as shot put were forced to spill into the second day due to a chaotic schedule.

BAA public relations officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba admitted the glitches and apologized to field athletes. “I have heard a number of complaints from the athletes and their concerns would be addressed,” he told the local media.

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