Gaborone — Local athletes together with those from neighbouring countries will battle it out during the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) National Athletics Championships scheduled for the National Stadium over the weekend.
The championships will be used as Olympic Qualifiers, World Athletics Championship (2022), World Athletics U20 Championships and Africa Senior Championships. Countries among them eSwatini, Lesotho and Namibia have confirmed their participation and this alone should serve as a warning for the athletes of the tough competition ahead.
Botswana is one of the well known 400m hub, but so far, only three 400m women runners Amantle Montsho, Christine Botlogetswe and Galefele Moroko have qualified for the Olympics.
On the men's side, attention will be on the 400m heat one, which has Isaac Makwala and Karabo Sibanda who both have what it takes to stop the clock at 44.90, which is an Olympic qualifying time.
Other athletes who will share the track with Makwala and Sibanda are Patrick Tlhajwane, Laone Ontefetse, Bayapo Ndori, Kabelo Shabane and Bernard Olesitse
The 400m heat one in the women's category has Botlogetswe, Thomphang Basele, Kendy Theetso and Phemo Ramosesane who are expected to send a strong message to Kirsten Ahrens of South Africa.
It also remains to be seen whether Letsile Tebogo will continue with his dominance in the 100m junior men against eSwatini's Lihle Gininindza and Laone Mfolwe, Edwin Talane, Kevin Lobatlamang, Ookeditse Madibana, Kutlo Timela and Ricardo Suping.
Another interesting battle will be in the men's high jump where veteran jumper, Kabelo Kgosiemang will be against Logic Motshwaredi, Aobakwe Nkobela, Karabo Seleka and Tshwanelo Aabobe.
Track and field analyst Aobakwe Showa said the interesting events to watch would be the 100m men and 400m for both men and women.
He said the men's short sprinters had upped their game recently in 100m events, adding that two years back, it was difficult for many athletes to do sub 11s.
He said most of them would also want to make it in the 4x100m team that would be going to the CAA Africa Championships in Algeria.
Furthermore, he said 100m heat one senior men comprising of Thuto Masasa, Thabiso Sekgopi, Mothusi Boitshwarelo and Bonang Nanogang would be one to watch looking at their times this season.
Showa said 400m had always been a spectacular event in Botswana and expectations were that it would live up to its billing.
For all the elite athletes, he said it was not just about making it to the finals on the national championships, but also making it to the relay team going to the Olympics and qualifying as an individual.
"It has been a while since we witnessed a sub 45s in local competition, but a 45s low will be good enough for our local athletes to gauge themselves and perhaps improve their rankings. My eyes will be in heat one and I was impressed by Bayapo Ndori's split in world relays and one will hope he replicate that performance and battles it out with Makwala," he said He said the 400m women side would also be interesting watch as well, given that Ahrens recently ran 53.62s and would bring the needed competition to Basele and Botlogetswe in heat one.
Former 800m athlete Omogolo Ramoroba, said he was of the view that many events would be exciting to participants.
He said the interesting events would be both in the 100m and 200m junior men where the on-form Tebogo would be eyeing to second-class his blistering 200m personal best of 20.36s by 0.12s to accomplish 20.24s set by World Athletics for Tokyo Olympics 2021.
He said the women's sprints should also boast a top-notch field featuring the former 400m World champion Montsho, Botlogetswe, 100m national record holder, Leungo Matlhaku as well as the 400/800m specialist, Oratile Nowe who fancies her chances of taking down the 800m national record, which she only missed by 0.46s at North West Athletics Open Meeting in South Africa.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>