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BAA reflects on successful 2018

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Jele doping case was our biggest setback – BAA

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) says the 2018 calendar year will no doubt go down as of the most successful seasons in the history of athletics in the country, but still aspires to bag even more success in 2019. Athletics has proved to be one of Botswana’s biggest sporting codes over the years, which has been proved by local athletes on the world stage.

Athletes such as Nigel Amos, Issac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe, Amantle Montsho, Christene Botlogetswe to name a few, are currently rated amongst some of the best athletes by the world athletics governing body IAAF. BAA Public Relations Officer (PRO) Ipolokeng Ramatshaba told Gazette Sport that in spite of lack of sponsors and funding, the association was capable of achieving most of their set targets this year.

“We started the year well in April at the Commonwealth Games in GoldCoast. The team did extremely well, and even surpassed our expectations. We won a few individual and team medals at the competition (Amantle Montsho – Gold , Isaac Makwala – Gold, Baboloki Thebe – Silver, Men 4×400 relay -Gold and Women 4×400 relay – Bronze) which was a huge success for the country,” Ramatshaba told this publication. “We also went on to the Africa Senior Championships, which were held in Nigeria. The team also performed well and won medals, Nigel (Amos), Thebe and Botlogetswe scooped medals there. Given the circumstances, the athletes did way more than what we expected, based on the fact that we had limited resources to prepare for this competition,” added the PRO.

Ramatshaba also went on to praise local athletes who also went formed part of the continental team that represented Africa at the intercontinental games. Furthermore he stated that the performance by local athletes at such a level was a clear indication of the potential vested in Batswana athletes. The BAA Spokesperson, however pointed out that the recent doping scandal of Lydia Jele was yet another setback for local athletics. Jele was recently handed a four year ban after she was said to have tested positive for a banned substance.

“It is a very big setback for us, it is very unfortunate especially considering that she was doing well. But it is clear that we still need to do more in terms of teaching our athletes on matters of doping, we cannot be losing athletes like this. Another set would be our Junior team’s failure to take part at the Junior World Championship due to lack of funds. Both the association and mother body were too broke to take them to the games. We cannot do it on our own, we need the private sector to assist, they need tosee the value of athletics. It is very unfortunate that we are failing to get sponsors, while it looks very easy for other codes to get sponsors, yet we are the best performing code in the country,” he said.

In the end Ramatshaba said BAA will be looking to attain more medals next year, especially in international competitions such as All Africa Games and World Championships both set for 2019

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