Karabo Sibanda’s fifth place finish in the final of the 400m event at the Rio 2016 Olympics on Monday has elevated the 18 year old to become the second fastest male junior(Under 20) in the world. Sibanda who only rose to stardom at the 2014 African Youth Games hosted in Botswana after winning Gold in 400meters, has been in sensational form that has seen many label him as the future of the 400m race alongside fellow countryman Baboloki Thebe.
Going to Rio, both Sibanda and Thebe had set a target of reaching the semi finals, and anything more than that deemed as a ‘bonus’. With Issac Makwala finishing a disappointing eighth in the semis of 400meters ruling him out of any chances of making Monday’s final and Thebe forced to pull out of the same semi final stage, Sibanda got things going for Botswana as he made history by qualifying for the men’s 400m final as one of the fastest third placed runners, making him the youngest Motswana to make it to an Olympic final at the age of 18.
It was clear that the final would have some making of last year’s World Championships in Beijing, China as the high profiled trio of Wayde Van Niekerk, Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt were the favourites to the podium places.
Running in lane one, Sibanda had to chase the rest of the field, running a time of 44.25s to finish 5th in a historic 400m final, which ended with South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk smashing the former World Record (WR) of 43.18s to set a new time of 43.03s at the ongoing Olympic Games in Rio.
Sibanda’s Personal Best meant more joy for the country as it means that, two Botswana young stars are the fastest in 400m in the world this year in the Juniors. Thebe’s 44.22sec sees him top the youth rankings, and the African Junior Champion moving into second. He will now have to shift focus on the relays where the 4x400m team will be hoping to fight for honours.