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.
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).