Team Botswana turns attention to Commonwealth

  • Botswana Athletics team stars will not be competing at the Commonwealth games.
  • Banyapi Ndori expected to challenge for gold in Birningham

Gazette Reporter

After a lukewarm performance at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, the United States, Team Botswana turns focus to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games which start on Thursday.

Botswana has sent 33 athletes, the largest contingent since the country first participated at the Games in 1974.

Eight disciplines, weightlifting, swimming, squash, lawn bowls, judo, cycling, boxing and athletics will represent the country, but once again, the weight of expectation for medals falls on athletics’ shoulders.

However, the Botswana athletics team is without its world-renowned athletics stars, Nijel Amos, Isaac Makwala Amantle Montsho and Letsile Tebogo.

Amos is suspended after failing a drug test a fortnight ago while Montsho and Makwala have hung up their spikes.

Rising athletics star Tebogo will be in Columbia for the World Junior Athletics Championships.

Tebogo broke the world record in Oregon, but was disappointed not to make the finals after he bowed out in the semi-finals.

Botswana has been further weakened by the absence of Africa’s long jump champion, Thalosang Tshireletso, who also failed a drug test earlier this month.

The absence of the leading stars, presents an opportunity for a new crop of stars to emerge.

As the trip to Oregon did not yield any medal, Montsho remains the only local athlete to have made a podium finish at the World Championships, back in 2011 when she was crowned world champion in Daegu, South Korea. While the World Championships present a tougher stage for local athletes, the Commonwealth Games are a rung lower as some of the most notable powerhouses such as the United States are not part of the competition.

Bayapo Ndori, who stunned the world to reach the 400m finals in Oregon is the leading light and is expected to challenge strongly for gold in Birmingham. “Upon arrival at Birmingham Games Welcome Centre, the Team undertook a COVID test (and all tested negative) and subsequently split into three groups bound for their respective athletes’ villages where they will stay until the end of the Games,” the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Athletics, squash and swimming teams will be at the University of Birmingham, while boxing and weightlifting are based in Hilton Metropole. Judo, lawn bowls and the cycling teams are at the University of Warwick.