The Botswana team which went to represent the nation at the ongoing IAAF championships will return home empty handed after failing to rise to the occasion in one of the biggest international athletics competition. Many are wondering what could have gone wrong and the prospects of Botswana athletes going forward.
With Amantle Montsho in the shadows, the nations’ hopes for a medal at the IAAF were solely pinned on Nigel Amos’ prowess. In his last outings, Amos proved to be slowly but surely becoming invincible to his perennial rival David Rudisha of Kenya. Since striding gloriously away from the field at the London 2012 Olympics in a world record time of 1min 40.91sec, Rudisha has met Amos six times. And he lost in every single race.
Amos had one strategy, as British publication The Guardian observes: “sit on Rudisha’s shoulder as he moved from third at the bell to second and then first, before unleashing those whirling arms and whirring legs with 50m remaining to edge ahead by half a metre”. “I wasn’t expecting a tactical race,” said Amos to The Guardian after defeating Rudisha four weeks ago. “I expected something much faster. I used to watch his videos as a youth, so running with him is a dream came true.”
Despite his dominance over his nemesis in the Diamond League, the nation watched in shock and disbelief as the confident lad crashed out of the competition. Amos failed to reach the finals after finishing third in the semis of the IAAF 800m race.
Amos has tumbled where it mattered most, and Rudisha piped him to the Gold Medal. Had Amos finished second, he would have had the opportunity to take on Rudisha once again in the final to prove his dominance but he finished 3rd, much to the Kenyan’s pleasure.
All is not lost though, next year the two will meet in the Olympics, provided both athletes remain injury free. At 21 years, Amos still has plenty years ahead of him- a silver lining on the cloud for him, and the nation. But he still has to learn to win big tournaments and not play second to Rudisha.
Another athlete who was put on the pedestal going into the competition was Isaac Makwala, only to also disappoint his myriad supporters. Ahead of the competition, the sprinter was breaking records.
He became the fastest man in Africa’s 400m setting a record of 44.01. Just two days short of the record’s first anniversary, Wayde van Niekerk shaved off 0.05 from that mark.
Makwala was back to his best less than 24 hours after South Africa’s van Niekerk broke his African record with 43.96 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris, but Makwala overturned that by making a sensational 43.72 run at the Resisprint meeting in the Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Most of his achievements came in the shadow of Amos’ domineering personality, who since his London 2012 Olympic exploits has been the face of Botswana in athletics.
Makwala however had a brilliant start in the competition and was able to reach the final, while many were still wailing about Amos’ heartbreaking defeat. He finished first in the semi-final improving his prospects of winning Gold in the final.
However the Tutume born sprinter finished the final on fifth position, ending hopes of any medal for Botswana at this year’s competition. Makwala will celebrate his 29th birthday on the 29th of September this year.
Makwala is probably at his prime and unlike Amos, his last opportunity could be next year’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. Prior to the competition, Makwala was in fine form. It is important that going into next year’s show, Makwala makes amendments and avoids stumbling at the last hurdle like he did this year.
Long-time athletics favourite, Amantle Montsho has now slipped into oblivion following last year‘s doping scandal which resulted in her being suspended from international competitions.
At the time of her suspension, Montsho was already showing signs of fragility. When her ban is lifted, she will face an uphill task, if she is ever to compete again. No doubt, age has already caught up with her.
At 32, Monthso maybe be contemplating hanging her boots because sooner than later as her hey days could be behind her. Athletes slow down after going beyond 30, a reminder to Batswana that we might have seen Montsho’s better days already. It is however worrisome that the failure of Botswana athletes to reach their maximum potential in bigger tournament is becoming a theme. Three years ago at London Olympics, Montsho was at her pick.
She had an incredible tournament and reached the final of the 400m women. Having beaten United States’ Allyson Felix a year earlier at 2001 IAAF championship, another American, Sanya Richard-Ross was out for revenge. Montsho was not only beaten by Ross in the final but finished fourth, and missed out on an Olympic medal.
Botswana was represented by Isaac Makwala, Nigel Amos, Leaname Maotoanong, Sakarea Kamberuka, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Kabelo Kgosiyang.
AMOS NOT YET FADED – COACHES
A collective of homegrown top-tier athletics coaches have altogether disagreed with the unpleasant and dreaded notion that the curse of lacklustre International arena domination that has ceaselessly afflicted the nation’s top athletes in Amantle Montsho and Isaac Makwala seem to be lurking around the career of youthful 800 meter racer Nigel Amos.
According to BISA Athletics Youth Chief Coach specializing in sprint, Chilume Ntshwarang Nigel Amos is Olympic class and did not lose his finals qualifying heat due to lack of fitness and fine physical conditioning but attributed it to the awkward 800 meters contest. Ntshwarang pointed Amos’ defeat to the complex and slow start of the race whose initial snail’s pace ensured the crowding up of athletes and disruption of Amos latter lap unrestricted sprinting style.
Ntshwarang who described Amos loss as “just an unfortunate case” said that when “the athletes changed pace Amos charged for the finishing line late forcing him to battle with maneuvering the crowded track therefore losing valuable time.” Ntshwarang also believes that Amos fell victim to an anti-competition maneuver called ‘caging’ which he says is common in middle distance races by the athletes.
Athletics coach and Chairperson of the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) Coaches Committee, Isaac Mbise fingers fatigue for Amos defeat. Mbise retorted that Amos performance at the recent IAAF in Lausanne Switzerland left his body fatigued.
The top coach also believes that local athletes who have already paid their dues and made their mark in athletics such as Nigel Amos and Isaac Makwala should be exempt for competitions such as Africa championships and All Africa Games as they wear out athletes.
“Accomplished athletes should be made to pave way for upcoming athletes such as Nkobolo and Pako Seribe in continental championships, have you ever seen Usain Bolt compete at the commonwealth games or Rudisha at continental competitions? Mbise rhetorically asked.
The top coach also poured scorn on the idea that Amos could have lost due to indiscipline saying on another day Amos would emerge victorious.
Another BISA and COSASSA coach dedicated to sprint Innocent Sibanda, believes that the Rudisha camp had calculated Amos style of running. Sibanda believes that the intentionally snail paced first lap with the second lap fast-paced and revved up stood in divergence with Amos traditional style of running and its 400 meter sprint burned up Amos reserves, as he normally sprints in the last 100-150 meters. Sibanda believes Nigel Amos can still rule over Rudisha again and that’s it’s all a matter of a game plan.
The Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, has expressed its underlying desire to reawaken and improve sport policy.
This is also in line with the declaration made by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) this week about the need to improve sport performance in the country. The sport policy was first enacted in 2001 when the Department of Sport and Recreation was under the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs.
The review of this policy is expected to commence soon and strive to address all socio-economic problems bedevilling sport. The examination will start from the elements that speak to the direct processes of national dialogue of sport and come up with recommendations for improvement.
As things stand, the Sport Ministry has coordinated a task force to deal with the taxing issue of school sports where teachers have downed tools demanding special kind of payment for partaking in extracurricular activities. The government through various means has been made aware that sport forms an integral part of the country’s vision.
If the policy is finally revised, the country and other stakeholders will eventually achieve national development, unity and continued economic growth. “The national Sport Commission Act is also being reviewed to facilitate sport to contribute to the economy through commercialization and professionalism, as well as to improve the welfare and the rights to our sportspersons,” Masisi said in his address.
The review will once again take a long route of extensive consultative processes where critical factors were initially identified as continuous constraint to sport development. There is a wide ranging view that sport is solely for recreation. This anomaly is fast becoming a matter of yesteryears as more athletes are making a living out of sport.
In October of 1997, a discussion paper on sport policy development was prepared. At the time, the workshop brought together policy and decision makers. The discussions precisely centred on issues of sport participation and development. Participants included among others, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) and National Sports Associations.
There was the discovery of limited funding in sport and poor sporting facilities in the country. This has negatively impacted on the performance of national sports associations, particularly on the global stage. As a measure to this problem, the government has decided to build 10 mini stadia to up participation and performance.
In 2001 when the policy was formulated, there was an agreement that the national guiding principles of democracy, development, unity, self-reliance and botho are cardinal to the development strategy of socio-economic development planning. The Ministry believes that sport and recreation in Botswana have a close relationship with all these national principles.
When speaking to this publication, the Chief Executive Officer of BNSC, Tuelo Serufho said there is indeed an overwhelming appetite to improve sport performance and participation in the country. “Yes we need to engage both BNSC and BNOC to improve and review the sport policy more because it has been overtaken by time…it needs to be aligned with modern sports trends,” Serufho briefly shared.
The world football governing body, Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), has ordered trouble torn Mochudi Centre Chiefs to compensate their former coach, Philani Mabhena, after unceremoniously dismissing him in the summer of 2019 with only a few months left on his contract.
FIFA agreed with Mabhena that Magosi, as Chiefs are affectionately called breached his employment contract. FIFA is of the view that Chiefs had no prima facie evidence that could lead to unilateral termination of a contract. The decision of FIFA’s status committee is that Chiefs should pay the Zimbabwean born coach an amount of BWP 111, 100 within 30 days.
The money is divided into two categories. BWP 56 100 which is derived from the period of 11 August 2019 until the end of contract. The other amount is P55 000 which was accumulated between January 2019 until a time he was sacked. Those amounts was accumulation of unpaid wages.
FIFA warned that more stringent action will be taken against Chiefs should they fail to deposit the amount before the set deadline. Mabhena claimed that Chiefs, before his contract was terminated, was never paid his signing on fee of P 15 000 as settlement remuneration.
He also argued that he had gone a couple of months without receiving his monthly wages. According to the terms of the contract, he was supposed to be paid P 15 000 every month. Chiefs to their bravery, has accepted the outstanding salary arrears of the former coach that stretched to P 56 100.
FIFA accused the shrinking Kgatleng giants of negligence and refusal to honour contractual obligations and this has brought far reaching consequences. Should Chiefs fail to honour FIFA orders, they are likely to be banned from signing coaches and players. They are also likely to forfeit points when the football season begins until full payment is completed.
The debts come at a time when the club desperately seeks a premier league return. They were rumoured to be eyeing to buy one premier league status to compete for the grandest prizes like before. Chiefs were relegated because of poor administration at board level. The team tried many times to professionalize but each attempt was beaten by the club society raging wars that consequently stalled progress.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs sporting club was first registered in July of 1974. The club was registered as a society under the societies Act of Botswana as a football team. It is noted that the club participated in the upper league of BFA under the terms prescribed in the constitution of the association together with the confinement of the societies act.
Premier League rookies, Sua Flamingos have fired their coach Raizor Tsatsilebe for allegedly speaking up for his players. Tsatsilebe who joined the team last season and helped them win Debswana First Division North league, was at the end of the season thanked with a one year contract extension.
His stay at Sua was to end in July of 2021 but things took a turn for the worst recently when management was said to be fed up with his demands. Reports claim that the Sua management felt the coach was more on the side of the players and did not approach things holistically, a move that led to his untimely expulsion.
“Since his arrival this side, he has been vocal about treatment of players, their welfare and as you know, players here have not been receiving their salaries but are given allowances on monthly basis. He felt maybe the club should at least pay half salaries as they have now resumed training. He also requested that the team should sign some players but that did not happen despite promises by the club. The final nail was when management left his goalkeeper coach, Terence Modikwe and signed Kagiso Tshelametsi without consulting him,” said a source at the team.
The club Chairman, Tirelo Thebe, confirmed that they have decided to part ways as with the feeling that they can no longer work together. “Yes it’s true we met with the coach and we agreed to terminate his one year contract because the relationship has soured. We cannot disclose more than this because it’s an internal matter and in the meantime our assistant coach will take over on interim basis while we look for his replacement,” said Thebe.
Tsatsilebe on his part felt hard done by the team after promoting them to the elite league- something they have been failing to achieve. “They are the ones who opted to terminate the contract not me and they couldn’t give me reasons why they are terminating. It’s a pity we coaches encounter such things in our lives but it has to continue,” said the 49 year old coach.