15 April 2018

Botswana: Athletes Make History

Gaborone — "We knew this was a special team and they have lived up to all pre-tournament expectations. And the very last national anthem we hear today in the stadium is that of Botswana."

These were the sentiments echoed by the commentator in the early Saturday morning (April 14) at the Commonwealth Games when Botswana 4x400 metre relay team ascended to the podium to receive their gold medal.

Indeed, this was good way to end for Botswana with a gold for the men's 4x400 metres relay team and a bronze for women.

The men's relays clocked Season Best time of 3:01.78, after e very sterling performance although they did not start the relay well.

On first leg was Leaname Maotoanong who ran 46.5 and hand the baton to Baboloki Thebe who did all the damage control in the process ran the fastest split in the men's 4x400m relay final of 44.3.

Thebe handed to Onkabetse Nkobolo who ran 46.38 did not disappoint in his baton exchange with Makwala although there was distraction, he handed to Isaac Makwala in position three, but as usual he anchored the team to finish on position one with a split 44.54.

It was a sweet victory for Botswana quartet, the World had high hopes on them, and like Thebe said on his Facebook page, "we had planned for nothing else but to dig gold at the Gold Coast and we delivered, thanks for the sterling performance," they did not disappoint.

After delivering the much awaited gold medal the quartet were on the ground with the push-up aka Makwala challenge.

Second to arrive on the finish line was the Bahamas with a SB of 3:01.92 followed by Jamaica on third position with a time of 3:01.97, which is also a SB.

For the women's relay it was very emotionally to the spectators both back home and at the Gold Coast as they watched Amantle Montsho ran as she ran 49.59 secs guiding the team in the last leg from position five to put it in the medal position.

The relay was started by Galefele Moroko who ran 53.3 and handed the baton to Christine Botlogetswe on position six, it was Botlogetswe who then gave the nation a ray of hope that the team has a potentially of come back into the race with a spilt of 50.9.

She handed to Loungo Matlhaku who is a 100 and 200 metres runner but she did not disappoint as she maintained position five splitting 53.00, and Montsho ran the last leg as if it was her last day in the track.

The team finished on position three with a National Record of 3:26.86, while gold medal went to Jamaica with 3:24.00, and Nigeria ran 3:25.29 to finish on second position.

Talking about the women's team, athletics analyst Billy Tambula said in his own opinion, Moroko started very well making sure that she hands over the button to Botlogetswe, who despite the fact that the second leg was difficult given the fact that she was against some of the fastest athletes, but she managed to give a ray of hope to the team.

On the third leg, he said Matlhaku did in the event maintaining the gap within a strike gap.

"I thought she was really good and never tried to go hard hence been able to hand over the button without running out of steam," he said

He said Amantle's experienced showed again when she brilliantly anchored the team to a bronze medal with a National Record.

"These ladies showed determination. All our athletes remained focus despite the pressure they had from the teams which were named favorites," he said.

Talking about the 4x400 metres relay Commonwealth Games champions, Tambula said Maotoanong started with a steady pace and attacked the last bend strongly to hand over amongst the top four.

He said Thebe pushed very hard immediately after taking the baton making sure that he takes advantage of the stagger and he remained amongst the front runners despite the pressure from Jamaica and Bahamas and his last 100m was even stronger.

He said the consistency with the race tactics by the athletes showed throughout the third leg when Nkobolo was under pressure, as he did not panic but rather remained within strike range and attacked the pair in front from with 70 metres to go.

Furthermore, he said Makwala and Nkobolo handover was so perfect that Makwala was able to take off first from the exchange and making sure that he was on the inner lane as quickly as he could to try and hold the pack behind him until a point he knew he had to go for a finish.

"It is worth noting that our athletes made sure that they play it smart when going to hand over and taking off after getting the button and I believe that's where we won it," he said.

Source: BOPA


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