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  • Mulls inviting men 4x400m team for training camps and competitions
  • As they hold that it can help them qualify
  • BAA welcomes the idea, also plans to send athletes to SA due to better facilities

TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

Athletics South Africa (ASA) is considering to invite the local men’s 4x400m relay for training camps and competitions in South Africa in order to bolster their relay chances of qualifying for the Olympics, Gazette Sport has established.

This publication made the discoveries through the ASA president Aleck Skhosana’s utterances following the three-day training camp which his association organised for their men’s 4x100m and 4x400m national relay squads a fortnight ago. “ The feedback from the camp is that we are on the right track,” ASA website quoted Skhosana. “When we host the next camp, we will consider inviting our regional neighbours so that they share in the opportunity to also improve on their own needs and this will include Botswana who are strong in the 4 x 400m.”

According to Skhosana, the invitation will not only benefit SA as it will also prepare Botswana and other Southern African countries to send strong teams to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Asked of his views on ASA’s plan, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) president Phapane Botlhale noted that it is highly welcome stating that it would enhance the local team ‘s chances of qualifying. This is the man who his not happy with the current world rankings (15th) of the team, he holds that it makes their chances of qualifying slim.

That is because the Olympics relays qualification standards, stipulates that a maximum of 16 qualified nations shall be entitled to each event. With that, the top eight teams in each relay event at the 2019 World Championships in athletics automatically qualified for the world’s prestigious games. The Botswana relay team however, failed to achieve this after being disqualified in the semi-final due to a failed baton exchange.

That, left the team with only one chance which is, remaining in the top eight of the World Athletics World Top Lists of 29 June 2020. Currently Botswana is ranked seventh (15th in total). To that end, Botlhale believes it is imperative for the relay team to remain active in order to qualify hence why he welcomes the ASA invitation.

Botlhale is nevertheless hopeful that the team will make it to Tokyo considering their abilities which will keep on aiding them secure invitations from other nations. “Our men’s 4x400m is the best in Africa if not the whole Commonwealth region. I mean they settled for gold during the previous Commonwealth Games and did the same at the African Games last year,” he said. “That is why African nations including SA always consider us, they belief that we can give them the needed competition which can get their team better.”

Even-though he welcomes the ASA invitation he noted that they are yet to meet for formalize agreements. He said they are also mulling the idea of taking their athletes for a training camp in SA as they have better facilities than Botswana. “They have things like the athletics villages where training facilities including the stadium are solely for athletics, so we believe when our athletes can be drilled there they will be thoroughly prepared.”

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