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Montsho primed for one last Olympic chance

Fear is only a feeling, it cannot hold me back, the past is gone, today is now and I face it head on. Today I see each moment as an opportunity to express my greatness. An opportunity is simply a possibility until I act on it. Thank you Batswana for your great support and I want to thank God for so many reasons. I love you all, only three hours left then we will see what happens.

These were Amantle Montshoâ’s words of courage and hope before she was to face 50 seconds of a life defining moment at the London Olympics games in the 400m race.The eyes of the world were watching in great but tense anticipation as Montsho, then 28 years old, was about to confirm herself as one of the greatest athlete of her generation, but in the end, it turned out that the 400m track and field indomitable queen succumbed to that fear.

Her eyes and that of Batswana shed a tear when she finished fourth in a devastating race dominated and bossed by American rivals. It was her second Olympic Games finals.Montsho made a fringe appearance at her Olympics debut in 2004 in Greece. Not much was expected from her then.However, it was 12 years ago in Beijing when the transition from hope to realisation started to take shape.

She qualified to the finals but came last in a breath-taking race won by Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain while Sanya Richards Ross got bronze.But in the 2012 Olympics, Richards-Ross became the first American woman to take a gold medal in the track and field of women’s 400 metres final.

With a time of 49.55 seconds, her fellow American mate, Dee Dee Trotter — the then latest contender to the throne — came in third place in a race in which the first four runners, Amantle included went under 50 seconds.And four years later, the opportunity refused to present itself again. She watched the 2016 Olympics Games held in Brazil on the side-lines as she served a two-year suspension for testing positive on a banned substance.

Although she returned a year later to turn back the hands of time at the Commonwealth games, it became a testament that Montsho’s talent can carry her beyond unimaginable heights.Whatever one may think of the Botswana queen, it is hard to argue and it was also some statement.At 34, Montsho had run 400m in 50.15sec, not only a season’s best but the tenth recorded best time of the Commonwealth games, this was in April, when most athletes were still shaking off their rust from yester year.

It was more difficult to argue a case for Montsho who has won every medal on global stages, who has chased down time and shattered some national records, but again, who never won any Olympic medal.
The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho is however adamant that this is a chance for Montsho to win an Olympic medal in her otherwise illustrious career.
It is of course one more opportunity for her to win a medal that lacks in her medal cabinet, I have hope, he said.Besides this, Olympic medal jinxed Montsho has already secured her greatness as an athlete.

Now she hopes to leave a legacy far beyond the finishing line. Will she be on the verge of her greatest victory yet? At the age of 36 years, when many athletes are going past their peak, it is difficult to tell.She has won numerous medals collected at different taxing international stages.One more medal at Tokyo 2020 – her 12th in her career- would make her immortal: the undisputed greatest of all time in Botswana. To this date, she has 11 medals, of which 8 are gold and 3 are silver.

Montsho has seen it all. From cusps of glory to the jaws of hell. At one point in her race, she was beaten cruelly just fractions of a second at the finishing line. One day, 8 years ago, she applied the same tactic on her fiercest rival, Allyson Felix, to change the colour of the medal; from silver to gold.The doping scandal four years ago might come with a black mark on her fulfilling career, but Montsho’s races are well documented in the world and has battled strong characters from all corners of the athletic globe.Sanya Richard Ross, Allison Felix and Dee Dee Trotter together with Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu are some of the world- class names the Botswana queen has taken to the sword.

But arriving for the third time onto the Olympic stage, Montsho’s contest is expected to shape up as a battle between familiar opponents.  Legendary Felix has also qualified but there are other newly born athletes of this race.Montsho’s standing has never been in serious doubt. The re-affirmation of her pre-eminence should give the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium yet another precious memory. Like it did 8 years ago at the world athletics championship, recording an impressive time of 49.54, which many believed was a corner stone of her career.

Many doubted her especially after she tested positive. But thanks to this experience earned in many years of running, Montsho finally became the face of the country when she notched a qualification over the past weekend. The way that she ran was much better than past championship and qualification dull moments. In fact, she is now the reason why rivalry exists between her and the rest of the world.As the eight runners stepped into their blocks, the University of Botswana stadium seethed with a combination of tension and sheer glee. The Maun born champion came out of blocks very comfortably but seemed to struggle alone the way to the podium finish, but as the crowning moment presented itself, all her supporters who were watching knew how lucky they were to witness a race that turned out to fulfil their expectations.

She was turbo charged from position four and loped her way to a respectable time ” a time that was good enough to book another meeting with 400m heavyweights in Tokyo Japan.

Sport

Rakgare addresses BFA presidential candidates

21st September 2020
Minister Tumiso Rakgare

Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.

The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.

The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.

Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.

It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.

He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.

Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.

The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.

The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.

This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.

BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.

Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.

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Sport

Virtual meet for BFA elections

21st September 2020
Malesu

If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.

There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.

Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.

As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.

The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
BFA President: Letshwiti
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.

Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.

Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour.  Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.

The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation.  On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”

The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.

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Sport

Talks to merge BNOC, BNSC resurface

14th September 2020
BNOC,BNSC merge

The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.

The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.

Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.

The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.

The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.

“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.

In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.

He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.

When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.

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