The Gaborone International Meet (GIM) line up stands to be further weakened should some of the local top athletes compete at the Penn Relays scheduled for April 25 to 27 in the United States. This is the same period that the GIM will be hosting the 2019 edition of the local meet.
This week, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Vice President Kenneth Kikwe confirmed that they have already submitted a list of the 4x400m men’s relay team that will compete at the Penn Relays. Kikwe named a five-men squad of Baboloki Thebe, Boitumelo Masilo, Leaname Maotoanong, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Nigel Amos as the team that will compete at the Penn Relays. Coach Justice Dipeba has been assigned to lead the team as coach. He noted that only Isaac Makwala has declined the invitation preferring to participate at the local event of GIM.
Quizzed on why BAA would prefer to withdraw athletes from GIM with only two weeks left to the event, Kikwe explained that the turnout of events left them between a rock and a hard place. A decision he said had to be reached even though it would probably rub some the wrong way.
“We received invitation to compete at the relays just recently and it was through our long time technical sponsor Nike; with that, after weighing all available options we felt there was need to compete at the Penn Relays,” Kikwe said. The BAA vice president noted that they could not afford to burn bridges by disobeying a plea by Nike. He explained that BAA is struggling to secure sponsorships and should they lose the confidence of Nike, they will be back to a very hard and lonely place.
He noted that they have nothing against GIM and actually re-negotiated with Nike as they (Nike), wanted Botswana to send the entire national team to the United States. “At first they requested we send a team of both the 4x100m and 4x400m including the ladies side to the competition however we explained of the clash and discussed until they obliged,” he said.
Kikwe went on to say that not only are they pleasing Nike but they want to improve chances of the team qualifying for the Olympics by competing in more international competitions. Botswana has not participated in the Penn Relays since 2011 and Kikwe believes that the competition will be used to prepare for the 2019 World Relays to be held in Japan next month.
The 2019 edition of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays will serve as a qualifier for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships scheduled for Doha and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. “We really have to improve our chances of qualifying for the Olympics and be ranked and that can only be achieved if we compete in many relay competitions,” he said.
He further admitted that the organizers of GIM are not impressed with the outcome of the events and somehow might feel that BAA is not playing fair. The founder of the meet, Glody Dube when reached said that BAA confirmed in a meeting that the athletes would not be available at the meet. Nevertheless, some athletes he said have approached him saying they do not wish to compete in the United States but were coerced by BAA.
Dube noted that he is just waiting to see what will happen, “With the BAA announcement, this means that should the athletes not leave for the Penn Relays and wish to run at GIM, there will be no appearance fees secured for them and it would be unfair on the athletes,” he explained. He added that he has written a letter to Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) seeking intervention on the matter. BNSC, he said is yet to respond to the matter.
The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) will be sending a team of five athletes to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships scheduled for Denmark next week. The team which is currently on camp include some of the finest half marathon runners in the country comprising of three men and two women.
The men’s team includes Rapula Diphoko (Diacore), Sesebo Sbula Matlapeng (Diacore) and Tlholego Keitshokile (Mmadinare Athletics Club). Only two women including Mema Tiango (Diacore) and Mosadikwena Maitumelo Gotswakgosi (Diacore) will form part of the team. In an interview this week BAA spokesperson Ipolokeng Ramatshaba said the team is currently on camp in anticipation of the world championships. “The team was selected at the end of the Cross-Country finals which were held in Palapye last month,” he said.
The BAA mouthpiece said the local team will be making a return to the world championships after being absent for a number of years. “Botswana only competed at the IAAF Cross Country world championships held in Uganda last year. This competition provides local athletes with an opportunity to win prize money that ranges between P80 000 and P300 000).”
According to Ramatshaba members of the team have used the BAA Cross Country Series that runs from November until February to prepare for the international showpiece. He further explained that the race will feature the 10 km cross country format currently used in Botswana. “We have been given a quota for one male and one female athlete, which mean we will be paying flight tickets for the rest of the team.”
Ramatshaba said other teams like Kenya were given more slots because of their recent performance at the IAAF event. “If we give an impressive performance at the race, our quota is likely to be improved.” According to Ramatshaba the international event will be expected to help local athletes as they will be embarking on other high-profile events like the Diacore Gaborone Marathon (DGM) which is scheduled for May. Meanwhile, Ramatshaba said the team will be travelling without a coach because of financial constraints. Brian Mosweu is expected to travel with the team as manager.
The President of Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Thari Mooketsi might contest for presidency again during the BAA elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) billed for later this year. BG Sport has been reliably informed by BAA affiliates that Mooketsi together with other members of the BAA executive committee are repositioning themselves well to retain their titles. It is alleged that they are busy with their campaign strategies and begging the support of close friends and affiliates during the elections.
“He came to us saying he will be seeking another term this year and we are shocked because initially it was said that he had no interest in running as president,” said the source that preferred anonymity. Mooketsi took over the reins at BAA on April 2017. At the time of ascending to presidency two years back, Mooketsi was faced with a mammoth task of restoring sanity to BAA. The Association was at the time engrossed in internal fighting.
Mooketsi’s return came as a shock to some given that he had served as BAA president previously. However he was ousted by a number of no confidence motions. It remains questionable as to whether the confidence has been restored on the president and if he will be able to captain the ship better unlike before. From a distance, it appears that not much has changed; the Association is still struggling financially despite being the best performing code locally.
BAA is finding it hard to secure even a single sponsorship. Moreover, there are still noticeable divisions within the Association; the Mooketsi led committee has on some occasions been labelled as difficult by affiliates. Even athletes have on many occasions decried that their welfare was compromised and even accused BAA of neglecting their needs. When reached, Mooketsi played his cards close to his chest saying that he was still undecided, “I have so many things to deal with at the moment and I have not really given it much thought,” he said in between giggles.
Mooketsi noted that the BAA presidency is not something to take lightly as he needs to reassess what he has achieved and what he will offer if he is to remain in power. He explained that at the moment he is looking forward to the Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) to be held in February. At the meeting the expectation is that affiliates will approve of the drafted rules and regulations meant to guide the association. For his part, the president of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Moses Bantsi said that he was not one to judge who is better placed to lead BAA. “All I can do is to support and work with any administration that is elected into power,” he said.
He said it was not easy to be in leadership positions and instead of criticizing all should come together to ensure that the Association mandate moves forward. “I am impressed by the athletes' consistency, they have been representing the country well out there despite the financial difficulties of the association,” Bantsi said. The CAA president went on to say that it becomes difficult to achieve set mandates without financial resources, saying even during his time as BAA president, there were certain things he wanted to achieve but could not.
He gave BAA a pat on the shoulder for seeing to it that IAAF president came to Botswana, for the very first time. Coe was in Botswana two months back.
Although Botswana has marked herself as a force to reckon with when it comes to sprint running, there are grey areas that seem to hinder its middle distance running development.
Currently, 800m runner Nijel Amos is the only Botswana star competing during major international competitions. Amos became the best thing that happened to long distance running when he won silver during the 2012 summer Olympics held in London. It was Botswana’s first ever-Olympic medal.
Seven years down the line Botswana is still struggling to find the next Amos, Glody Dube or even Mbiganyi Thee among others. Amos is now based in the United States, where he is believed to be busy polishing his career under the watchful eye of an international coach. Perhaps what could have prompted the need to move to the United States was the obvious fact that Amos was alone, amongst sprint runners. That might have possibly made him to change lanes and find a conducive environment to explore his talent.
The leading female star of long distances, particularly the 42km run, Onneile Dintwe agrees that middle distance in Botswana is a foreign topic. She is running because it is something she loves however she is not even in a position to impart any knowledge to other developing athletes.
To be the star that she is, she had to cross borders and get the expertise from coaches based in South Africa. “I cannot say anything to young athletes but share with them my experiences or what works best for me. However, that is not enough because what works for me might not be what they need,” Dintwe said.The 33 year old believes that much emphasis is on sprints to an extent that even when they attended an International Association Athletics Federation (IAAF) coaching course back in 2011, 90% of it was all about sprints.
“I am not surprised because in an environment where you find that the leadership likes or was trained mainly on sprints, this is bound to happen. They might not even realize that such is happening because they are doing what they know best,” she said.
Dintwe advised that it was important that local coaches specialize as they cannot be in a position to master all field events, sprints, jumpers and long distance.
Evidently, the two prominent local athletics coaches Justice Dipeba and Mogomotsi Otsetswe have been doing very well as far as sprints are concerned. Following the discovery of 400m runners Isaac Makwala, Lydia Jele and others, the coaches managed to unearth mouthwatering talent in Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda. The recently hosted African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Gaborone games also reflected another promising future in the 4x100 and 4x400 men’s relay team. Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has the potential to reproduce another Amos in the youthful Tshepiso Masalela but only if he is given the necessary attention. The young man scooped gold in his 1500m and 800m races.
“The athletes only prepare for three months or so before they are done for the year. It is high time they are given the same attention as sprints,” former 800m runner Dube said. Dube said that track and field events run throughout the year and that is how the athletes get to excel and continue to represent the country across borders. He noted that it was not impossible for Botswana to produce gold but it all boils down to the leadership and how committed they are to investing in athletes.
The BAA President, Mooketsi Thari also agrees that at the moment they are not doing enough. However, it is not out of ignorance but because they do not have the expertise to bring out the product they all want. “With technical events we have tried to find a volunteer that will assist our athletes and we can see that there is progress,” he said. Mooketsi said it was not easy to engage retired athletes because they do not have the funds to support their services. He added that voluntarism alone is not enough as people have bills to settle.
The Cross-Country running event that will be held in Gaborone this coming Saturday is anticipated to prepare and qualify local athletes for major upcoming events such as the World Cross-Country Championships and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) National Finals.
This was confirmed this week by the Sports View Runners Club Chairperson, Glody Dube who are billed with hosting this year’s event after hosting the previous edition. Cross-Country running involves running a race on an open air-course over natural terrain such as dirt or grass.According to Dube, they are excited to have been preferred to host this year’s event, “We are always amongst the top list of nominees to host this occasion each and every year,” he said.
Furthermore, Dube reiterated that the Cross-Country running event is meant to aid athletes to qualify for major tournaments. “Cross-Country events are one of the easiest occasions for athletes to qualify as they are not normally judged by specific time because they compete in different environments such as dirt and grass. However, if an athlete performs well in the Cross-Country series, he or she automatically qualifies to represent the country at the World Cross-Country Championships which are scheduled to take place on the 30th March this year in Aarhus, Denmark,” said Dube.
Categories that will be available on the day include 10 Kilometres (KM) Senior Men & Women, 8KM Junior Boys, 6KM Youths Boys & Junior Girls and lastly 4KM for Youths Girls.Nevertheless, Dube said the athlete’s fitness level might prove crucial, “We are just fresh from a Christmas break, and most athletes have been engaged with all sorts of activities at their respective home villages thus it will require a lot of effort to return back to their shapes,” said the Chairperson.
On the other hand, local defending Cross-Country Champion Rapula Diphoko said it is only the beginning of the year and he just started his training, “I have just returned from off-season, and I am going to take the coming Cross-Country as my fitness builder so that I come back to my best for the second Cross-Country series which is slated for February and subsequently start to impose competition as I want to qualify for the World Cross-Country Championship in March,” said Diphoko.
Quizzed about his goals for 2019, the ambitious runner said he wants to qualify for every tournament that is on offer this year, “Honestly, this year I intend to focus only on the track in preparation for the World Championships and other major tournaments and I have to work and train hard. And most essentially, to work towards beating my personal best,” he said. The event is expected to take place on Saturday 12th at 10am in front of Gaborone Technical College (GTC) and the registration fee for every athlete is P20.00.
Former International 800m star Glody Dube believes that the alteration of the qualifying times for the 2019 IAAF World Championships which will be held in Doha, Qatar will not affect local athletes but rather give them a better chance of qualifying to these impending major events.
This year’s IAAF World Championships qualifying standards have been made slightly different from that of 2017 in London, England. Both marathon marks are faster-from 2:19:00 to 2:16:00 for the men’s event and from 2:45:00 to 2:37:00 for the women’s. As for short races; 100m- from 11:26 to 11:24 for the women and from 10:12 to 10:10 for the men’s event, in 200m- 23:10 to 23:02 for the women and from 20:44 to 20:40 for the men’s. Moreover, in 400m- from 52:10 to 51:80 for the women and from 45:50 to 45:30 for the men’s and 800m- from 2:01.00 to 2:00.60 for the women and from 1:45.90 to 1:45.80 just to mention a few.
Dube told BG Sport this week that, these sudden changes (times) will only act as a motivating tool for local athletes to perform well, “Our athletes are bound to perform to their utmost best as they will be influenced by the changed times. I expect massive performances from our local athletes. I do not see anything wrong with these changes thus are a welcoming development to our sport”.
On the other hand, one of the local prestigious marathon runner Rapula Diphoko said he only heard rumours about the new qualifying standards, “I just resumed training, trying to bring myself back to shape and I heard hearsays about these developments. I am yet to see them so that I can be able to appreciate them better as well. My ambition is to qualify for the World Championships regardless of the time changes, and I am going to work really hard to achieve my desired goals,” said Diphoko.
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) President Thari Mooketsi said the qualifying standards for the World Championships are not bad, “The changes are not bad at all, and it will just depend on every individual (athletes) to pull up their socks and eventually qualify for the Championships. Furthermore, the World Championships are scheduled for September which provides us with ample time to prepare and do better, come the day,” said Mooketsi.
BAA President further said they (Association) are aiming high for this year’s IAAF World Championships, “In most cases for the national team, we always target for 14 to qualify but now we are aiming 20 because there are some few individuals that have emerged from the shadows. For instance, there is one from long jump and the others for relay (4x1) that we hope will add on to 14 to make it 20,” he said.The 2019 IAAF World Championships which are billed to be hosted in Doha, Qatar will take place in September 28th until the October 6th.
This year’s Orange Phikwe Marathon (OPM) will be used to promote tourism and support different businesses in Selebi-Phikwe and surrounding villages. Following the recent closure of the BCL mine the Selibe Phikwe economy quickly took a slump.
Speaking during a press conference in Gaborone this week Orange Botswana Director, Corporate Affairs Lepata Mafa-Nthomola said sports tourism is a trend that is growing internationally. “Cities are competing to host sporting events to improve their image, showcase their culture and most importantly to grow their economy”, she said.
“As Orange Phikwe Marathon Local Organising Committee we see an opportunity to commercially package the Marathon to support the businesses in Phikwe. It is under this conviction and backdrop that we want to bring a bigger and better 2017 Orange Phikwe Marathon.”
However, Nthomola urged the corporate sector to register teams that will take part in the marathon or come on board as a sponsor. “To all the businesses in Phikwe and the surrounding villages, this is the opportunity to sell yourselves and secure partnerships.”
Nthomola said they used feedback from last year’s marathon to make changes and improvements to this year’s event. “We have increased resources as an intention to attract a huge number of participants from 500 runners to 2000.”
Registration and payment is also said to be convenient, with the website having been refreshed with latest information on the race and the route, there will also be an increased number of marshals with communication resources availed for them.
Among other things there will be improved and visible markings on the route, increased water points and water supply. The company also guarantees high standard of safety that will be upheld with the assistance of the Botswana Police Service.
Improved standards during the marathon also includes time recording micro-chips, which will be placed on the athletes to record accurate time in an effort to meet international standards.
“The Marathon presents an opportunity for the discovery of talented athletes who can represent this country at international platforms and shine a spotlight on our country,” said Nthomola.
The political animosity and instability that have recently bedeviled the local track and field governing body is expected to come to an end following the reshuffling of the BAA executive committee on Saturday.
The local track and field governing body has a mammoth task ahead as the corporate sector lost confidence in the association following well-publicized infighting. The association will have to redefine its development structures, revamp school of excellence programme and improve relationship with schools’ sports associations.
“I do not want to see athletes registering for competitions individually. I want to make sure clubs exist in their true nature and have more athletes”, said Mooketsi. The BAA president said he wants to restore sanity at the association, which has never had a president who completed his term since 2010 as affiliates tabled motions of no confidence on their executive committees.
Thari blamed the infighting at BAA on leaders from affiliates who want to be rewarded for voting in certain people. But he declined to elaborate. Thari possesses vast experience in sport leadership, which goes back to the 80s, having served as secretary general of the then south central regional football association.
He played part in the formation of African Universities Sport Federation (FASO), also a founding member of Lefika club, and participated in formation of the premier league, which is now called Botswana Tertiary Schools Sports Association. Thari lamented that BAA affiliates exist as members but athletes suffer as these clubs are without active leadership, which sometimes forces athletes to move from one club to another. The defiant Thari believes that it is time to restructure athletics and increase number of regions.
“Athletes come and go but clubs remain. Secondly there is need to extend regions to spread athletics across the country”, explained BAA president. Thari shied away from relating his relationship with his predecessor. “I cannot say we have a good relationship or we do not”, said Thari.
The new administration was ushered into office by affiliates on Saturday in Gaborone. The association had to call a special general assembly 21 days after Moses Bantsi, Legojane, Glody Dube and Ronald Masalila resigned. The outgoing president Bantsi and Thari have overthrown one another since 2010. Bantsi and other executive committee members resigned after the affiliates tabled a motion of no confidence on their Secretary General Kebaitse Legojane.
Thari, who is expected to lead BAA to the next elective AGM in 2019, must act fast since local competitions must continue as well as preparations for the 2017 Bahamas relays and world champions in London. The newly elected president claimed that his administration has hit the road running with the hosting of track & field event on Saturday at Francistown Sports Complex at 1400hrs.
This event is organised as part of the BAA planned calendar of events and will be used by national team coaches to select the team that will compete at the World Championships in August. The newly elected committee is made up of known administrators in BAA circles.
Thari Mooketsi from Lefika Athletics Club was unopposed for the top position; the controversial Kenneth Kikwe from Orapa Athletics Club was also unopposed for the position of vice president technical. Raymond Phale of Francistown Athletics Club defeated Kelebogile Mogapi from Serowe Athletics Club by 21-2 votes for the position of Secretary General. BAA affiliates elected Ipolokeng Ramatshaba of Mmadinare Athletics Club who had to battle it out with Lulu Basinyi of Palapye Athletics Club for the position of publicity secretary. Ramatshaba won by 19 votes against 4.
The Lady Khama Charitable Trust (LKCT) will host its annual fundraising event dubbed, the 2017 Lady Khama Half Marathon (RUN21) on the 9th April in Gaborone.
Briefing the media this week, the trust Secretary, Marcus Ter Haar said the RUN21 is currently on its 5th edition and will be located in the heart of the national stadium from 0530am to 0930am.“The race will begin in the stadium and end here, the marathon has been divided into three categories of 21km, 10km and the 5km fun run/walk,” he said.Ter Haar cautioned drivers and commuters to be on high alert on the day as several roads such as Notwane, Metsimasweu, and Gaborone Game Reserve main Rd, River walk and Fairgrounds back Rd, Shashe South and Matatadiba Rd will also be used by athletes.
However, he noted that all athletes will be urged to use the pedestrian paths adding that the police will be placed at all major intersections and junctions to prevent unforeseen accidents.He expressed delight in the growth of the event over the past years, saying the event had 200 runners in 2013, 498 in 2014, 1007 in 2015, 1573 in 2016 and is expecting over 2000 participants this year.
Ter Haar said they always try to go all out in captivating the participants’ interest in the race. “This year we have the Lady K Wellness Arena, a platform that will provide sport enthusiasts with an opportunity to explore alternative sporting activities, regardless of their health and stamina for free.”
The half-day event scheduled for the 8th April will attract exhibitors in the fields of fitness, health and well being. Patrons will be expected to collect their RUN21 Trail Run Race numbers on the day. Additionally, IT Junction will give away a 16GB Black Ipad Wi-Fi Cellular to the most creative costume worn for the 5km fun run.
Haar explained that since the race is a fundraising event, there will not be any prize money awarded to champions but will instead be awarded medals at the end of the race.Mineral water producers 03 Beverages are the new lead sponsors for 2017-2019. Other partners include Sefalana Cash and Carry, Security Services, Rescue one, Quick Print, OP Advertising, AGC Media Works, Uni -span, Duma FM, Rola Botswana and many more others. Proceeds of all the 2017 fund raising activities will go towards helping the trust mandated core beneficiaries like Bana ba metsi, Child line, Flying Mission, Little friends Day care Centre and SOS Children Villages.
Sports View Runners Club has this week launched the Gaborone International Meet (GIM) in a bid to sell the country’s biggest capital city and attract international athletes.
The race which was previously known as Sports View International meet will be hosted on 29th April at the national stadium under a new and more cosmopolitan banner. The marque race, which has helped local athletes qualify for international events, has grown in leaps and bounds in the past 15 years.
However, the international track and field extravaganza requires a minimum of P101 000 to host the event which is expected to attract both European and African countries. So far, the club has raised P80 000. “It came to our attention that the event was not growing to a level that we intended initially.
It is then after thorough evaluation and consultations that we came up with the new name “GIM”; to sell our country (Botswana), attract international recognition in which local athletes would get the opportunity to compete against international athletes,” said Sports View chairman Glody Dube at the race launch in Gaborone. Addressing members of the press and other stakeholders, Dube said the Meet continues to attract athletes worldwide. “This is confirmed by the countries who have already confirmed their participation including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia. The closing date for confirmation is 23rd April 2017.” Moreover, Dube said they are expecting even more countries to confirm their participation through invitations extended by Botswana Athletics Association (BAA).
Dube said they expected international athletes to push our locals to qualify for various major events including the Regional Senior Championships and the World Championships. “GIM will sponsor accommodation, local transportation, feeding and massage service to two athletes per country, costs for the rest of other athletes will be borne by their federations. We hope that more runners and corporate organisations will take part this year to further encourage and grow the culture of social activism through athletics in Botswana.”
Dube said this year’s events will be grouped and attached specific prizes as Premium, Classic and Promotional events.
For the first time the event will include Special Olympic races in 100m. “I therefore strongly urge the corporate sector to come on board to assist in availing more attractive purses for the athletes”. Dube said entry to the event would be P50 adults while entrance for children under seven years is free. Dube said some of the country’s elite athletes would be competing during the event. “After reviewing the races of the past few years, taking note of the growth of our Meet, we decided that this would be ideal to ensure a smoother and safer event for everyone”.
This year the host has invited the Anti- Doping Agency through the help of Botswana National Olympic Committee. Some of the event sponsors include the Director Special Olympics Botswana Ross Tebele (P5000), Lefa Welding Engineering Pty LTD (P5 000); Rolling Wheels (PTY) Ltd (P30 000) and the main sponsor Khayelihle Guest House (P40 000).