Mmegi Online :: A run that defined 2017
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Last Updated
Wednesday 17 January 2018, 23:00 pm.
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A run that defined 2017

As the full time whistle beckons for 2017, there has been the usual dose of bright and dark moments in Botswana sport, with the eye-catching Isaac Makwala’s solo run, by miles, the highlight of an action-packed year, which recorded varying degrees of success, as summarised by Staff Writers, BOITUMELO KHUTSAFALO, MQONDISI DUBE & CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
By Boitumelo Khutsafalo Mqondisi Dube Calistus Kolantsho Fri 22 Dec 2017, 11:50 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: A run that defined 2017








Athletics: Largely regarded as a late bloomer, Isaac Makwala went to the London World Championships in August searching for his first medal at the world stage. While Makwala holds all national sprint records, he had not set the world stage alight. But his moment arrived in London, albeit in bizarre fashion. After he had qualified for the 400m and 200m semi finals, Makwala was barred from contesting in the races, after he was said to be suffering from novo virus. He had to be quarantined for 48hours, despite his protestations that he was fit.

The controversial moment denied him a shot at the 400m medal, where his South African rival, Wayde Van Nierkek romped to victory. Most felt he had been robbed. But in a dramatic twist of events, Makwala was allowed to run a solo 200m race to determine if he qualified for the semi finals. It was a rare moment in front of a near capacity crowd which egged him on as he powered towards the finish line.

He qualified for the semi finals and a sign that he was fit, did press ups at the finish line.

Later that night, he ran in the semis and moved to the finals in an extraordinary 48 hours, which re-defined the 30-year-old’s career. He capped the year with a Diamond League title, to push his year’s earnings well above P500,000.

Nijel Amos also won the Diamond League, to salvage a largely disappointing year by his standards.

Former world champion, Amantle Montsho made her return to the track after serving a two year suspension. However, it was not a triumphant return as she failed to impress both in the Diamond League and World Championships. Montsho tested positive at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and was subsequently banned.

While Montsho made her return, the future looks bleak for promising female athlete, Lydia Jele who recently failed an out of competition doping test. Both the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) have said they will wait for the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) to complete investigations.

 

BNOC Elections: The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has a new president, for the first time in 16 years. The presidential election in October drew a lot of interest, with the highest number (5) of contestants.  Ookeditse Malesu, France Mabiletsa, Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego, Daniel Molaodi and Colonel Botsang Tshenyego all fought a fierce battle to replace the long serving Negroes Kgosietsile.  For the first time, the candidates faced off in televised public debates.

Lebotse-Sebego made history by becoming the first woman to contest for the position and she also assembled an all women team. Kgosietsile’s vice, Tshenyego emerged victorious, while Molaodi received only one vote.

 

Netball Youth World Cup: Botswana became the first country on the continent to host the Netball World Youth Cup (NWYC) in July. The competition brought excitement amongst the locals who filled the UB Indoor Sports Arena to the rafters especially when the home girls, Dinaletsana, were playing.

The NWYC slogan #ReaBaTsaya became popular across the country. Botswana was pitted against Cook Island, Uganda, Jamaica and Malaysia in Group C. Dinaletsana got off to a good start by winning their first match against Malaysia. The youngsters became overnight heroes with the likes of Pearl Maribe, Cheludo David, Amantle Never, Fatima Dino and Sarona Hans putting their best ‘hands’ forward.

But there was heartbreak after the nation thought the starlets had qualified for the quarterfinal, when it was not the case. Botswana was banking on Uganda to beat Jamaica. Botswana had beaten Jamaica the previous day and had the same points as Uganda (six). Before the match, Jamaica had four points. Unfortunately, Jamaica walloped Uganda and qualified for the next round. New Zealand won the World Cup after beating perennial rivals, Australia in the final.

 

Softball Men’s World Cup: The local lads left the country for Canada as underdogs, but that changed in an instant. Botswana, which was ranked 19th, finished in position eight with Kagiso Mogale voted the pitcher of the tournament.

Another pitcher, Kunyalala Samuel’s dream of playing in the Japanese League ended in agony. The player was signed by Daiwa Softball Club that plays in the Japan league.

One of the challenges he faced was the delay in releasing of his VISA. After a lengthy period, the pitcher received his VISA, but reports that his club had reached its foreign quota surfaced. He was part of the club for a short period. Kunyalala was selected into the national Under-19 side, which competed at the 2016 Junior Men’s World Championship in Midland, Michigan.

 

Softball Conference: Botswana Softball Association (BSA) hosted the World Softball Baseball Confederation (WBSC) congress, as the country continued to establish itself as a hosting hub. The meeting, which included election of a new executive committee saw more than 300 delegates from 150 countries, attend. History was made when BSA president, Tirelo Mukokomani made it

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into the WBSC board.

 

Joshua Bondo: It has been a roller coaster year for Botswana’s top referee, Joshua Bondo who has almost single handedly put the country on the world map.

While he continued to handle big matches, including World Cup qualifiers, he found himself on the wrong side of publicity. Bondo hogged headlines following an incident in which he appeared to head butt an Angolan player, Masuekama Natael, during an international friendly between Angola and South Africa.

The incident made international headlines with the video circulating all over social media. Bondo was also sent home from the COSAFA Castle Cup allegedly for his poor handling of a match between Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

The incident although unfortunate, did not deter the man popularly known as ‘The Sprinter’ in local football circles.

He continued to get approval from CAF and FIFA to handle some of the big matches including the CAF Champions League and the World Cup qualifiers. Bondo however, together with several other top performers in Southern African Africa failed to make the cut when referees for next year’s World Cup in Russia were announced. Only Zambia’s Janny Sikazwe made it from the southern region.

 

Botswana Premier League: It was generally a good year for the Botswana Premier League (BPL), which has in the past attracted bad publicity. The return of Mascom Wireless and Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) as sponsors for the Top 8 and the league respectively should serve as an encouragement.

The two companies renewed their relationship with the BPL with improved deals. On top of their P39 million league sponsorship deal, which will run for three years, BTC will also hold a charity tournament during the pre-season.

The tournament whose main role will be to raise money for charity will also come in handy for selected Premier League sides, which will serve as preparations for the coming season.

 The last time a charity tournament was held was in 2015, which was organised by Kabelano Charity Trust. Mascom also extended their relationship with the BPL and announced a slight increase in the prize money.

The winners will now walk away with P1.3 million, a P100,000 increment from the previous figure.

The BPL has also once again managed to stage a protest-free year. Township Rollers won the league back-to-back, winning for the record 14 times. They also appear to be on course for their third straight title and remain unbeaten in the league this year. Jwaneng Galaxy on the other hand, followed in the footsteps of Orapa United by winning the Mascom Top 8 title in their first participation.

 

Fans snub: On a low note, the BPL has had its own challenges although they do not surpass what has happened in the previous year. The number of spectators has significantly gone down both in the league and cup competition.

The situation has worried not only the clubs who are heavily dependent on the gate takings but also the BPL office, which recently revealed shocking figures for the Top 8 tournament this season.

A number of factors have been attributed to the low turnout with the expectation being that the BPL office and the teams come up with a robust plan next year to try and improve the situation.

 

Branding wars: Just when it looked like the football fraternity was about to witness a smooth season, a monkey, which refuses to get off the BPL’s back, branding wars recurred.

Two BPL sponsors, Mascom Wireless and BTC are currently fighting over the branding at the National Stadium, which is mostly used by Gaborone Premier League sides. Mascom rented a space with the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) at the Eastern Stand popularly known as Panda.

BTC on the other hand is protesting that their competitor is gaining free mileage during the BTC sponsored league games.

The issue, which is under discussion, has since limited the BPL in terms of venues for league matches. The BNSC has insisted that any company is free to rent a space since it needs money to maintain the facilities.

 

Gilport Lions: Another problem child on BPL’s back is the issue of Gilport Lions, which occurred again last year.

This time the team has been left with only eight players, forcing the BPL to postpone their matches.

 Zebras: It has been a difficult 12-month period for the Zebras who have registered only one victory. The only victory was the Independence Day friendly match against Ethiopia in which Jerome Ramatlhakwana marked his return with a brace.

It was again this year in which the national team lost head coach, Peter Butler to South African Premiership side, Platinum Stars.

In search for a replacement, the BFA settled for David Bright who is yet to turn things around. The two coaches have been involved in public spat, Butler accusing Bright of destroying what he was trying to build by recalling old players to the team. Bright has repeatedly brushed off Butler’s accusations.

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