Botswana’s Thebe impresses in US Diamond League race
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – World junior 400m champion Baboloki Thebe continued his meteoric rise after the 20-year-old pushed veteran, LaShawn Merritt, all the way in a Samsung Diamond League race in Eugene in the United States last weekend.
Merritt, 10 years his junior, crossed the line in 44.79 to win the Profontaine Classic, which is part of the Diamond League series.
Thebe, who has already qualified for the World Championships in London in August, was happy with his time, although he failed to run sub 44 seconds.
“Thanks for your support, fresh from injury but managed to clock a better time. Thanks, if it was not for your support, I don’t know how I was going to manage,” he posted on his Facebook page.
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) public relations officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, was pleased with Thebe’s second finish.
Thebe is making his second appearance in the Diamond League after his first season was blighted by injuries.
“It is very good. The boy is going places. We expect a lot from him,” Ramatshaba said.
Meanwhile, there was heartache for another Botswana athlete at the Diamond League when Karabo Sibanda went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
There are now concerns that Sibanda might miss the World Championships in London. The athlete, one of the best 400m runners in the world, has already booked his London ticket.
Participation however, now looks gloom after the Rio2016 Olympics finalist left the Eugene pitch on a stretcher.
Athletics, despite poor funding, has largely remained Botswana’s leading light, putting the feted football in the shadows. At least eight athletes have already qualified for the London competition, which draws together the world’s best athletes.