Between the struggles of injuries and attempts to reach a podium finish, the men’s 4x400m relay team represents an emerging quartet beaming with talent and experience and all the potential of bringing home gold one day soon, STAFF WRITER MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE observes.
Their record time of 3:02:13 might not be the best recorded time of the 4×4 metres relay in the history of athletics. But it is a time that-if well sustained- can notch even a gold medal. This is a figure that is central to the rising talents of both Karabo Sibanda and Baboloki Thebe; one is 19 while the other is 21 years. It is not difficult to project through the years and predict that they have-at least 3-best opportunities to dominate the 400m race together with others in the next three Olympic Games. Thebe ran the fastest lap with a time split of 44:95 while Sibanda who anchored the race recorded time of 45:80 to deliver a silver medal in Bahamas that felt like Gold here in Botswana.
They may not be the world’s fastest athletes in their discipline, but time and again, they threaten with eagerness to write their own history, and become, by some margin, the most loved athletes post Amantle Montsho and Nigel Amos era. They are accompanied by the legendary Isaac Makwala who is 31 and the 24 year old Onkabetse Nkobolo. The quartet, along with Pako Seribe and Maotoanong (who play reserve roles) have been working together and were simply meant for each other. Their stranglehold on this sport has been supreme beyond a shadow of doubt.
However, there is one figure often forgotten – 2:59:06 – the time it took Isaac Makwala, Onkabetse Nkobolo, Karabo Sibanda and Gaone Maotoanong, to cover 4 laps of the Maracana Stadium, as the 2016 Rio Games came to a close. This eventually became their national record time.
Athletics is a famously lonely sport, sometimes too hard to comprehend. Thebe and Amos in separate occasions, have spoken of their struggles to train away from their families, and often by themselves, and one of the most fascinating facets of the discipline is that most athletes stand upon a start line, behind a run up, or in a thrower’s circle alone: for ten or twenty seconds, Their fate lies solely in their own hands.
In many occasions now, at least for 3 minutes of major championship, the quartet has teamed to represent a country that should be now laden with both sprinting and long distance runner talent- and to re-write history. They stand to complement one another. Makwala who stands 7th in the world, usually starts the race, his prowess is slowly fading off, but the master plan to reshuffle this relay team has finally paid dividends.
It was interesting to the eye to watch Sibanda giving USA’s dominant and anchor runner, Shawn Merritt a hard time right to the end in Bahamas. This is the USA team that has twice stood on the way of Botswana relay team, denying them a gold medal. But with Merritt nearing retirement, time is flying fast, and it is in the hands of this team to claim dominance.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.