Botswana takes strong athletics team to Harare
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – Botswana is not letting up on preparations for the World Championships after naming a strong side for the Southern Region Senior Championships to be held in Harare on Saturday and Sunday.
There was an overwhelming feeling that the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) would give fringe athletes an opportunity at the regional meet, and rest the core team as it prepares for the World Championships in London. There were concerns some athletes might incur injuries competing in a comparatively low key event.
However, BAA public relations officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba has defended the decision to send the cream of the team, arguing the regional competition forms part of the London preparations. Ramatshaba contends it is critical to involve top athletes in the tournament as it is part of their preparations for the World Championships.
“I know that people think regional competitions are not important including the athletes themselves. Some believe that they are on top of the world and they cannot compete within the region,” he told the local media this week.
Ramatshaba said most of the athletes who have qualified for the World Championships would compete in relays and the rest would be involved in flat races. Botswana has named among others, former 400m world champion, Amantle Montsho, former 400m African champion, Isaac Makwala as well as world junior 400m champion, Baboloki Thebe for the Harare trip.
However, 2016 Olympic Games 400m finalist, Karabo Sibanda misses out after he was injured during the Samsum Diamond League race in Eugene, United States last week. Sibanda has travelled to Italy for treatment and the good news is that he would be back on track soon, with his recovery from a hamstrung pull expected to take two weeks.
Germany based Onkabetse Nkobolo and Boitumelo Masilo have been left out as they continue preparations in Europe, with Masilo yet to qualify for the World Championships. Botswana is expected to dominate the 400m races in Harare with both the men and women’s 4x400m teams looking ominous.
Gaone Maotoanong, Baboloki Thebe, Isaac Makwala and Pako Seribe make up the men’s 4x400m team.
The women’s 4x400m team has Amantle Montsho-Nkape, Christine Botlogetswe, Lydia Jele and Galefele Moroko.
In the women’s 4x100m team, Botswana is represented by Loungo Matlhaku, Gosego Mokokwe, Ontiretse Molapisi and Tsaone Sebele Karabo Mothibi, Keene Motukisi, Xholani Talane, Mompoloki Powane and Seribe are in the men’s 4x100m side.