Relay team chases elusive gold

On to the Bahamas: the relay team at Sir Seretse Khama Airport on Sunday PIC: BAA FACEBOOK

On to the Bahamas: the relay team at Sir Seretse Khama Airport on Sunday PIC: BAA FACEBOOK

The competition, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, is a crucial Olympic qualifier for the world’s best-performing athletes from more than 40 countries.

Botswana has sent three teams; the men’s 4x400m relay team, which is ranked number seven, the 4x400m mixed relay team at number 13, and the women’s 4x400m relay team, which is ranked number 20. At the 2015 edition of the relays in the Bahamas, the men’s 4x400m team finished in position eight and qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, while in 2017, still in the Bahamas, the team took a silver medal.

The team won a bronze medal in the 2021 relays in Poland to book a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The only medal missing from their cabinet is gold. The team is strengthened by the presence of experienced athlete Isaac Makwala. Speaking to head coach MmegiSport, Justice Dipeba said the team is looking good and he believes they will do well.

He said Makwala’s presence is not only exciting but also a credit to the young athletes on the team who look up to him. For his part, athletics coach Nico ‘Keita’ Manyepedza said the team seems ready for the competition. “The brutal part will be when the starting lineup is selected based on the past or history. With the women’s team in the 4x400m we are there for the exposure. (The) Mixed relay team also has a good chance of progressing in the competition,” he said. Manyepedza said it is unfortunate that the 4x100m relay team did not qualify for the competition. “We have an organizing problem as a country and we have to be intentional if we want results. We must focus on athletes who we think can achieve the 4x100m and be conscious about this. If it means full support, let it be, coaches alone will not be able to manage such demands,” he said.

Manyepedza said the choice of athlete for the team is crucial. He added that even if this means taking the team to international competitions where they can be mentally prepared for the competition. The top 14 teams from each event at the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24 will automatically qualify for spots at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The remaining two places in each discipline will be awarded based on top rankings during the qualifying period running from December 31, 2022 to June 30, 2024. The top eight teams in each event will receive the following prize money: gold: $40,000; silver: $20,000; bronze: $10,000; Position Four: $8,000; Position five: $6,000; Position Six: $4.00; Position seven: $3,000; and Position Eight: $2,000. If a team breaks a world record, a prize money of $50,000 will be awarded, subject to ratification of the record.

The Botswana Men’s teams: Bayapo Ndori, Letsile Tebogo, Leungo Scotch, Busang Collen Kebinatshipi, Anthony Pesela, Tumo Stagato van Wyk, Boitumelo Masilo and Makwala. Women: Lydia Jele, Obakeng Kamberuka, Galefele Moroko, Christine Botlogetswe, Kennekae Batisani, Nancy Budzani, Motlatsi Rante and Refilwe Murangi.