Gaborone — When the clock ticked midnight on July 30, the hammer symbolically struck the block to signal the end of qualifications for the World Athletics Championships.
It is now official: Botswana will be represented by seven athletes and the 4x400m men’s relay team at this year’s championships. Bayapo Ndori, Leungo Scotch, Collen Kebinatshipi and Letsile Tebogo earned their qualification after clocking the qualifying times in different meets, while Naledi Lopang, Tshepiso Masalela and Oratile Nowe qualified by points.
Botswana Athletics Association’s vice president (BAA) Oabona Theetso said this falls short of the plan, which was to send more numbers to Budapest.
“As an association, I have to admit that we are not happy,” he said in an interview with BOPA. “This means that next season we have to put our best foot forward in ensuring that we help athletes to qualify for the Olympics by hosting more meets.”
Theetso explained that the reason they had more meets this season was to help athletes to qualify on home soil, adding that unfortunately athletes could not hit the qualifying marks in great numbers.
He said high hopes had been placed on the mixed 4x400m relay team, whose stay in the Top 16 qualifying bracket was short lived.
“Our greatest worry is the absence of ladies in this important competition. Yes, we take solace in that Lopang and Nowe have made it through the points system, but just imagine where we would be if World Athletics had not come up with a point system qualification,” he said.
At the last World Championships in Oregon, the United States, Team Botswana was wholly made of men. Theetso expressed concern that the performance of Botswana’s female athletes in track and field seemed to decline.
He identified this as a challenge that BAA would not shy away from addressing, but would engage with all relevant stakeholders to see how best to help female athletes to be as competitive as their male counterparts.
The 2023 World Athletics Championships will be held on August 19-27 at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary.
Botswana will be represented in the 400m men by Scotch, Kebinatshipi and Ndori.
Tebogo will line up for both 100m and 200m, while Masalela will be competing in 800m.
In the women’s category, Lopang will carry Botswana’s hopes in 400m, with Nowe doing the same in 800m.