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Makwala shames IAAF

The incongruent messages from key  IAAF personnel validates the suspicions surrounding Isaac Makwala’s shambolic barring from the 400m final at the London Stadium on frivolous ‘medical grounds’.

The most ridiculous claim from London was the suggestion that Makwala experienced the forceful expulsion of the contents of his stomach and part of the small intestines through the mouth for 18 hours! Surely he would have died! This day dreaming smacks of cowardly chicanery. The decision to block Makwala from competing in his favoured race smacks of sabotage and fraud. Pundits were shocked at the level of poor communication by the IAAF officials after they delivered a fraudulent verdict on Botswana 400m sprint icon’s medical condition.

Rightly so, the Botswana Government is incensed and has instructed a team of lawyers to confront the IAAF on the ‘unfair’ treatment of Makwala. The actions of the IAAF have been found wanting and rickety, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng told Parliament that Government lawyers are busy drafting protest papers directed at the IAAF following the unfair treatment of Makwala. In fact it could have been more pain for Makwala, the 400m sprint icon was sabotaged and blocked from participating in the 200m heats as well – the 400m final came after he missed the 200m heats.

Allegations were flying thick and fast to the effect that this was a calculated move designed to favour the IAAF preferred athlete, a poster boy of some sort, Wayde van Niekerk in the wake of Usain Bolt's retirement. IAAF feared that Makwala was going to embarrass their chosen would-be winner according to pundits. Minister Olopeng has indicated that IAAF officials rejected Botswana delegation's medical report and violently barred Makwala from even entering the stadium in London because of an assumed 'medical condition'.

Pundits have dismissed the IAAF's 'ridiculous' grounds for barring Makwala and it is very likely that the Botswana Government will push this matter to the last stage. There is no doubt that the IAAF medical delegation’s poisonous move almost scattered Makwala and team Botswana's chance to a podium finish. The psychology of the team was negatively affected by the irrational decision by the IAAF. But the resolve of Makwala and his team mates and a goodwill support from the crowds and social media cheered the team.

For his account Makwala, after IAAF officials cooked up another statement claiming elapse of a 48hour quarantine for the 400m athlete, he was allowed to race against a time of 20.53seconds in order to qualify for the semi-finals of the 200m race. He blistered his way through the wet surface and powered across the finish line in 20.20 seconds. Makwala further shamed the IAAF conspirators in the semi-finals, clocking an impressive 20.14 seconds to qualify for the finals.

But in a final showdown, a nation full of hope watched in shock as Makwala succumbed under immense pressure while 400m gold winner Wayde van Niekerk gave him a torrid time. But it was Turkish sprinter Ramil Guliyev who gate-crushed the finals becoming the global king of the 200m race- scooping a gold medal. Clearly the local lad was always going to find it difficult to break boundaries. In a space of two days he ran three races recording contrasting times.  Unbelievably, Makwala clocked an awful time on the finals- 20:44.  

Pundits point out that fatigue, conspiracies and mounting pressure are factors that might have played a disappointing role that saw Makwala losing out in the last minute. At some point there were attempts by the IAAF head of medical delegation, Dr Venning: She explained: “He had taken a history, examined him, pulse, respiratory and the history from this gentleman is clear that he had symptoms similar to all the other athletes classified as having this gastro-intestinal disease.” Makwala and the Botswana delegation have denied all these made up statements. Makwala insists he was never medically examined by the IAAF doctors. At some point it was claimed that Makwala vomited for more than 18 hours, a ridiculous suggestion that would have sent Makwala straight to grave because of loss of body fluids.

Venning’s explanations, fell short because she could not even tell whether Makwala’s symptoms “could be attributed to any other reason as opposed to making the assumption that it is norovirus”. The IAAF doctor claimed the decision to bar Makwala was meant to protect other athletes in the stadium – where as he was set aside purely on assumption. Social media came to Makwala’s rescue, it has to be stated. Michael Johnson and other former athletes followed Makwala’s case through and through and regularly updated on it. Batswana joined the fray in their numbers and indeed the IAAF was shamed and it ordered a time trial race for the ‘Badman’.

Makwala rewarded with P 100,000

At the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC) meeting on Thursday, President Lt Gen Ian Khama hailed the tremendous determination and spirit that was displayed by Isaac Makwala in the face of his "unfair" barring by the IAAF from running in the 400m final and 200m qualifier this week. The President informed the meeting that it had been decided to reward Makwala with the P 100,000 gold medal incentive that he would have been otherwise entitled to if he had won the race. Government position is that Makwala was denied a chance to compete for the prize hence the decision to reward him.

The President also thanked the domestic and international media, officials and members of public for their support which had been rewarded with last night's special run. The President also announced that a special day will be scheduled in the near future to honour Makwala. Meanwhile interviewed and quoted elsewhere, the IAAF World Athletics Championships 2017, Wayde van Niekerk said wished he could give 400m gold to Isaac Makwala.

"I really wish him a speedy recovery. On Monday, I saw him just before the 200m heats and the only thing I could think of was wrapping my arms around him and saying get well soon because I wouldn’t wish that on anyone," van Niekerk was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "It is such a massive pity. Obviously, there are a lot of fingers that are being pointed right now. I would allow him to have his fair opportunity. I wish he could have run. I wish I could give him my medal to be honest. But this is sport. We all have disappointments, we all have tough times – we just have to fight back even harder,” he added.

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Sport

Rollers make digital strides

11th June 2021
rollers_0121

A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.

Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.

This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.

Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.

Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.

However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts.  They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.

FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.

It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.

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Sport

GU finally snatches Ditsele

3rd June 2021
Lebogang Ditsele

Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.

The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.

He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.

The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.

Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.

Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.

“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.

It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU.  His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.

No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.

It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.

Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.

However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.

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Sport

No injury problems for Amos

2nd June 2021
Nijel Amos

Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.

This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!

Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.

His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.

However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.

When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.

But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.

Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.

If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.

But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.

But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.

However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.

Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.

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