The last prayer

Tshepo Kehimile

Relay teams head for Poland in final Olympic push

With the Tokyo Olympics fast approaching, Botswana’s relay teams will head to Poland in a last desperate attempt to qualify for the greatest sporting event in the world.

Scheduled for 1 – 2 May in the southern Polish city of Chorzow, the World Relays will see the ‘rest of the best’ converge on Europe in the scramble for Japan.

Botswana will compete in both the men’s and women’s 4x400m events while a men’s team will also take part in the explosive 4x100m relay

With eight of 16 allocated Olympic places up for grabs in each discipline, the local runners will be assured of a spot at Japan if they can get through their heats.

Speaking to Voice Sport this week, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Vice President Administration, Oabona Theetso insisted confidence in camp was high ahead of the make-or-break competition.

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“The qualification period is nearing its end, an opportunity like this is a welcome development for athletes to fight for a place at the Olympics,” he said.

Theetso revealed BAA held a number of races at the weekend to gauge the athletes’ form.

“They were used to assess the team that is scheduled to depart and so far so good looking at times our athletes clocked,” he explained.

Currently, only four athletes have secured their place at the rearranged Olympics set to run from 23 July to 8 August.

800m star Nigel Amos will be hoping to repeat his 2012 heroics in which the silver sensation won the country’s only ever Olympic medal.

Another legend of Botswana athletics, former 400m world champion Amantle Montsho, 37, will be looking to bow out on a high in what is almost certain to be her last appearance at a major event.

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400m runners Galefele Moroko and Christine Botlogetswe, who are both part of the women’s relay team, have also qualified alongside Montsho.

For another golden oldie, 34-year-old Isaac Makwala, the relays represent a last chance at Olympic glory.

The Tutume native was part of the 2016 relay team that set a national record in a 5th place finish at the Rio Olympics in Brazil.

It remains one of the highlights of Makwala’s storied career.

How the ‘bad man’ would love another shot at redemption.

One of the greats of local running, Glody Dube told Voice Sport he expects big things from Team BW.

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“These upcoming World Relays will be a do or die for our local runners. Moreover, Botswana has always been respected with regards to relays worldwide and I am certain that they will do well,” declared the 800m trailblazer who finished 7th at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Although he noted preparations were not ideal, a defiant Dube added, “Constant pausing of sports activities has affected our athletes but I am confident that they will use this presented opportunity to compete at the Olympics.”

Men’s 400m relay team

Isaac Makwala, Ditiro Nzamani, Leungo Scotch, Boitumelo Masilo, Karabo Sibanda, Zibane Ngozi, Bayapo Ndori

Men’s 100m relay team

Karabo Mothibi, Leaname Maotoanong, Letsile Tebogo, Thuto Masasa, Thapelo Monaiwa, Keorapetse Lesotlho

Women’s 400m relay team

Galefele Moroko, Christine Botlogetswe, Amantle Victor-Nkape, Oratile Rose Nowe, Thomphang Basele, Onkarabile Mokenane, Loungo Matlhaku.

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