The 37th Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Annual Sports Awards nominees were announced in Gaborone this week.
Addressing members of the media and stakeholders this week, the BNSC chairman Solly Reikeletseng said the glitzy and glamour award ceremony scheduled for Gaborone will be held in two weeks time. The sports person of the year category is arguably one of the biggest awards of the glamorous night. The nominees include 800m runner Nijel Amos, African Karate champion Ofentse Bakwadi and chess player Thuso Mosutha. However Amos’ year has been riddled with injuries and disappointments.
The 800m runner does not have much to write home about since winning Botswana’s only Olympic medal. Another sports person of the year nominee being, Thuso Mosutha surprised everyone last year after unseating Providence Oatlhotse to book himself a place at the 2016 World Chess Olympiad in Baku, where he qualified as a Candidate Master.
Botswana’s karate sensation Ofentse Bakwadi comes as favourite to scoop the 2017 sports man of the year award following a stellar year at the international stage. Bakwadi brought home two gold medals from the World Championships in Australia. Bakwadi has also made it into the World Karate Federation rankings after brilliant performances in international stages like Dubai in the UAE.
Meanwhile local sports enthusiasts will be surprised to learn that world 200m and 400m runner Isaac Makwala does not feature in the Sports person of the year nomination list. The award has been eluding Makwala over the past few years due to inconsistencies. The key interest at the awards usually is the sports person of the year who happens to be the overall winner. The sports person is usually contested by the sports man and the sports woman of the year. Junior Female Sports Person of the year usually attracts athletes from the Botswana Chess Federation, Botswana Tennis Association and athletics. BCF hosts more youth competitions than most other codes. Besa Masaiti is not a surprise in this category though she did not win anything internationally even though she improved her FIDE ranking.
Tennis protégé Tshegofatso Tsiang who is based at a high performance centre in South Africa is another candidate even though her achievements at the international stage are a bit vague. Another dark horse in the junior women’s category is Galefele Moroko who rose to prominence as one of the few promising athletes at BISA competitions a few years ago. However, the young athlete has also not won any major competition.
The junior male sports person of the year is the only category contested by athletes who competed at the Olympics. Gavin Mogopa is the first Judoka to represent Botswana at the Olympics last year in Rio even though he made it as far as preliminary stages. Karate happens to be one of the most consistent sport codes and thus far and Thabang Setshego comes as no surprise.
Setshego will be a favourite to walk away with the award. Another likely winner is Karabo Sibanda who managed to beat teammate Baboloki Thebe for the nomination. Sibanda’s record at junior and senior level is impressive after finishing 5th in 400m at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Sibanda was ranked 2nd fastest Junior 400m in the world in 2016. The sport code of the year is one of the toughest competitions with Botswana Cricket Association (BCA), Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA). BCA has one of the best strategies in the land. BCF is one of the few codes to have retained sponsors over the years while the BAA remains one of the high performing codes in the field of play even though administratively it leaves a lot to be desired. The coach of the year category nominees is Peter Molefhe (Karate), Mogomotsi Otsetswe (Athletics) and Thebe Setlalekgosi (Boxing). The umpire/referee of the year nominees are Edgar Serole (volleyball). Joshua Bondo continues to fly the flag on behalf of the poor performing football team. Gaone Poane of tennis is also nominated. The contest is possibly between Serole and Bondo. The group code of the year pits BOTESSA against BOPSSA. The awards organiser included the category for athletes living with disability since last year. Kedumetse John - Special Olympics and Goitseone Ramontshonyane - Special Olympics contest for this category.
The male sport person with disability Keatlaretse Mabote of PASSOBO and Brightfield Shadi from Special Olympics