National team coach Dipeba worried
Aims for more athletes to qualify too
Olympic Games billed for August 2021
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) national team coach Justice Dipeba says the continuing ban on sporting activities as a result of government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 is killing momentum of athletes.
In an interview on Friday, coach Dipeba said the national team preparations for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is thrown into doubt due lack of athletes not being exposed to competitive tournaments. He noted that the national team athletes are continuing with training but said it is not enough.
“It is very difficult to prepare for the Olympic qualifications because of the ban on sport. The local sport has been affected equally by the ban but sometimes it is not the situations that we can control. Training the team with competitive races doesn’t serve any purpose at all,” he said.
In addition, Dipeba said it is important for the national athletes to qualify in numbers for games.
So far only five (5) Botswana athletes have qualified for the Olympic Games and they include Galefele Moroko, Amantle Montsho, Christine Botlogetswe and the boxer Keamogetse Kenosi.
Other three local (3) athletes being Karabo Kula (Taekwondo), Magdelene Moyengwa (Weight lifting) and Bakang Ebudilwe (Cycling) are also in line vying for the Olympics’s wild card entry.
The lanky 800 metres sprinter Amos remains the only local athlete to win an Olympic medal after securing the silver in the 800 metres at London 2012 where he had a brilliant performance.
“Our target is to have more athletes qualifying for the Olympics as well as keeping the fitness level of those who have qualified at top level. Some of the atlhetes should travel outside the country to compete in some tournaments that will be important in boosting their competitive but it is hard due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. We hoping for the better,” said Dipeba.
Also, the athletics tactician noted with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccination, there is hope for the sport sector just like others noting that it will be good if athletes are prioritized first in vaccination.
But Dipeba said it will lie with the government to consider if the athletes can be vaccinated first as well.
He pleaded with the government and the companies to offer support to the atlhetes financially in preparation for the games noting that it is very important to motivate them to win the medals.
The World Athletics (WA) has suspended the athletics qualification for period of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games until December 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 with games postponed too.
Many major sporting codes across the world have been affected by the pandemic, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games both postponed being to 24 August to 5 September 2021.
Efforts to reach Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho proved futile at press time.
The committee has been bemoaning lack of funds as the major impediment for the preparations.
BNOC recently said initially it targeted for 15 athletes to qualify for the Olympics aiming four (4) medals but due to the pandemic disruptions, local organizing committee now target three (3) medals.