It’s swim or sink for Team Botswana as Rio 2016 looms large

Botswana athletes from various sporting codes are racing against time to book their tickets to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With only seven months to count before the world’s most decorated sporting festivity, the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) are faced with a mammoth task of helping many athletes meet the qualification standards in stipulated time.

Each sport on the Rio 2016 Olympics Games Programme has a set of criteria which athletes and teams must meet in order to obtain qualification slots. According to reports the country will be looking to better their record of Beijing 2008 where they sent a total number of eight athletes but went down half the number in London 2012. For this year’s Olympics the nation’s hopes are pinned on making sure BNOC sends 20 athletes to the Games.

The BNOC is still optimistic of reaching their target despite a short time frame on their timeline. Among the sporting codes expected to beat the race are a few individuals from athletics who the Committee have set up training camps to make sure they meet the standards requirements in their respective disciplines.

Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) will also be hopeful to send a few names from their nest  to the Games but interestingly for boxing the Olympic Games aspirants will have to contend for their slots with other pugilists at upcoming international tournaments meaning gold or silver medals will automatically book one’s ticket to the games. Other sporting codes include Judo and the women’s volleyball team.

Only three of Botswana’s athletes have so far booked their slots at the summer Olympics that are slated for August.
Ironically the trio are all from athletics, being Nijel Amos who will rekindle fond and historical memories of his maiden appearance at the Games as he nailed the countries’ first ever medal at the Games at the London 2012 Games.

Amos secured his qualification slot in style as he recorded the second world leading time of 1:42.66 in last season’s IAAF Diamond League. Rio 2016 presents a rather different scene as Amos will be the one searching for revival under his nemesis, David Rudisha who won the IAAF World Championship round as Amos stumbled to make it to the final.

Another name is former African 400m record holder Isaac Makwala who had a stellar season despite an early scare of a hip injury. The Tutume born athlete engraved his name in the annals of history when he stopped the clock at 43.72 at the Resisprint meet last year in Switzerland carving his name to the list of the top five of all time fastest 400m sprinters.

Despite failing to bag a medal at the IAAF Championships Makwala will be hoping to shrug off the disappointment and light up the scene in search of glory.
The third athlete is Onkabetse Nkobolo who also finished last season with a flourish as he stroked his personal best of 45.10 in the 400m race as he claimed his first ever bronze medal at last year’s All Africa Games held in Congo Brazzaville. The trio also stands a better chance of again representing the country in the 4x400m relay category as they helped the team seal qualification to the Games at the IAAF World Relays last year in the Bahamas.

For the relays, a maximum of sixteen qualified NOCs shall be entitled to each event. The top eight teams in each event at the 2015 IAAF World Relays are guaranteed a spot on their respective NOCs for the Olympics.

The set deadline for the qualification period is July 11 which leaves aspirant local athletes and the National Olympic Committee with only six months in their timeline to ensure their medal targets becomes a reality and an icing on the cake as the nation will feast on its momentous 50th   independence anniversary.