The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng has called on Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) and all other stakeholders to start preparing for the 2018 Commonwealth games scheduled for Australia.
Olopeng was speaking during the Team Botswana welcome ceremony in Gaborone earlier this week. Team Botswana arrived back home from the IAAF World championships in London on Tuesday afternoon where they failed to secure a single medal from the international showpiece.
Despite the controversy that surrounded the team in London, Olopeng advised that all should be forgotten and all the energy should be diverted to ensuring that the team is ready to compete in Australia next year. The minister assured that the government and his ministry will be up on their toes to ensure that the athletes receive all the necessary assistance to see Botswana rise to the top. “We have to first act professionally if we want to see the results, we should start preparing as early as now,” the minister said.
Olopeng further gave the athletes a pat on the back for representing the country well despite the emotional turmoil they had to endure while thousands of miles away from home. He urged Team Botswana not to be discouraged but rather soldier on. On behalf of the team, 400m runner Onkabetse Nkobolo said they prepared well ahead of the event in Cardiff before proceeding to the world championships. He explained that during the Makwala controversy, they were forced to stick together and lean on each other’s shoulders. “It was a difficult time for us, our hearts were bleeding nevertheless I urge you all that we bury the hatchet and focus on the future, as we leave this place today let us think about the Commonwealth games,” Nkobolo said.
The young athlete also pleaded with Batswana to stop criticizing them whenever they fail to reach their expectations, as they need a strong support system in order to prevail under difficult circumstances.He congratulated the ladies relay team, noting that they outdid themselves and in the process silenced critics. “Many, including myself had little confidence in our women’s team but they reached the finals and we failed,” he said.