Gaborone — The Gran Premio diputacion meet in Spain on June 29, is no ordinary competition for Botswana 400 metres runner, Baboloki Thebe.
It is a race against the clock as it will be the deadline for track and field Olympic qualifiers.
So for him to board a flight to Tokyo, Japan he must run 44.90 seconds or better, to join his compatriot in the 400 metres, Isaac Makwala.
Before travelling to Spain on Saturday, Thebe competed in Potchefstroom, South Africa, where he finished in position one with a time of 45.58.
He said in an interview with BOPA that he was cognisant of the fact that the race was do or die for him, adding however that he was not under any pressure, but was going to enjoy his race and the rest would follow.
Thebe said the Potchefstroom race result had motivated him, given that he had not been training well and missed some races, which were scheduled for him in Europe, as he was still preparing for his visa.
"Yes, I would like to qualify for the Olympics.
In fact, it is every athlete's dream to compete at the Olympics," he said.
Some athletics pundits are of the view that Thebe's qualification would bolster the relay team, given his resilience and experience on the track.
Track and field analyst, Lentswe Charles said it would be a tough race for Thebe since time was not on his side, as he had to hit the 400m Olympic qualifying standard mark of 44.90 seconds.
"I was impressed with his race in South Africa where he ran 45.58 seconds, which is not far from the qualifying mark.
It was a great run, with good energy distribution, making a good rhythm in all the two splits," he said. Furthermore, Charles said Thebe showed some improvement in endurance, strength and speed, since he went hard even in the dying minutes of the race.
He advised the athlete to stick to race pace velocity and manage his energies wisely despite lane assignment and dictate the race factor from opponents, especially on the second half.
Source : BOPA