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Athletes off track

Baboloki Thebe and Onkabetse Nkobolo

*Thebe and Nkobolo to face the music over 2020 car crash

A year ago, star athletes, Boboloki Thebe and Onkabetse Nkobolo were involved in a late night car crash near a nightclub in the centre of Gaborone.

The pair allegedly snuck out of camp in the wee hours to go gallivanting in the capital.

According to the police report, Thebe, 23, was more than four times over the drink-drive limit when he lost control of the VW Golf vehicle he was driving and it overturned.

While Thebe walked away with hardly a scratch, Nkobolo barely survived the March 2020 crash. Confined to a wheelchair in the preceding months, the 27-year-old has not competed since the accident.

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A year on, and having engaged an Independent Investigating Team, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has summoned the duo for a disciplinary hearing.

This comes after Thebe’s recent arraignment before Extension II Magistrates Court, where he was charged with exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit.

The athletes were summoned to appear before the BAA’s Investigation Team for hearing this Friday (5th February).

However, their lawyers wrote to the association arguing they were not given sufficient time to prepare. The legal representation are also said to have questioned BAA’s right to call their clients for hearing as neither athlete signed a contractual agreement with the association.

In an exclusive interview with Voice Sport, BAA Vice President Administration, Oabona Theetso confirmed investigations into the matter were complete.

“As the board, we were pinpointed and we constituted a disciplinary committee to look into the matter. The committee summoned them but they responded asking for time to engage their legal representatives. We are waiting for the lawyers’ response then a disciplinary action can be taken,” explained Theetso, who was clueless as to the possible punishment the pair could face if found guilty.

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Thebe and Nkobolo were an integral part of the famous 400m men’s relay team that won Gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. The pair, along with Isaac Makwala and Leaname Maotoanong, beat off competition from Bahamas and Jamaica to secure top spot on the podium.

Nkobolo backed up that success with another Gold in the same event at the 2019 African Games in Morocco.

His life was to come crashing down seven months later.

While Nkobolo continues his recovery at home – at one point it was feared the Moroka native might never walk again – it is believed his career will never reach the same heights again.

Regarded as the natural successor to Makwala’s 400m crown, Thebe, on the other hand, is currently in camp with the national team as he looks to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in August.

Meanwhile, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) suspended BAA activities until 31st March following a Covid-19 violation. According to the letter from the commission, their recent Sports View Runners Club track and field event attracted more than 50 people.

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When reached for a comment, BNSC Caretaker Executive Tuelo Serufho said guidelines have to be followed otherwise those who violate protocols will be forced to stop their activities.

“We have advised them [BAA] to submit a plan that will show how they will avoid that in future until the government relaxes restrictions,” stated Serufho.

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