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Did BNSC force BAA to dump Thebe for Makwala?

Makwala had a stellar 2017 PIC: MONIRUL BHUIYAN
The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) reportedly arm-twisted the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) to dump Baboloki Thebe and instead, submit Isaac Makwala’s name for the Botswana Sports Awards to be held next month.

It is reported that the BAA had picked Thebe ahead of Makwala, but the BNSC overruled the decision. However, BNSC chief executive officer (CEO), Falcon Sedimo said they did not have powers to change decisions made by affiliates. However, he said they can negotiate with an affiliate until a solution is found. “The BNSC cannot overrule a code but can advise and negotiate until an agreement is reached,” he said. Sedimo added that there is an awards adjudication panel that handled the nominations. The nominees were released on Wednesday evening and Makwala has been nominated for Sportsman of the Year award. He is pitted against Ofentse Bakwadi of karate and Rajab Otukile Mohammed of boxing.  Mmegi Sport has learnt that the BAA executive committee had agreed that Thebe should be the one contesting for the award not Makwala.

“We agreed on Thebe and dismissed Makwala’s solo run. We also looked at the results where Makwala finished fifth in the 200m,” said a source. According to information released by BNSC, Makwala was nominated because he won a silver medal with the men’s 4x400m at the IAAF World relays in the Bahamas. He won the IAAF Diamond League in the 400m in 2017.

The statement further states that the athlete made history by running solo in 200m at the World Championship after being forced off the 400m due to an illness. He also made history by becoming the first man to run sub 20s and sub 45sec in the 200m and 400m respectively on the same day.

Some BAA officials said they are in the dark over what happened after they picked Thebe over Makwala. They said there was information that the BNSC had promised to give Makwala a special award. BAA spokesperson, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba said it is wrong for officials to discuss matters from a closed meeting. He

said as to who got nominated should not be made public.

“We held numerous discussions on the nominations and some names were thrown on the table. I am not at liberty to tell you those names. Some got nominated and those who did not get the nod, it is unfortunate,” he said. Ramatshaba denied claims that BNSC chose Makwala instead of Thebe.

He said there was a nomination panel, which handled the matter. He added even if they had wanted Thebe, there is nothing that they can do at this point but rather wait for the awards ceremony. Meanwhile, there was a blunder that saw Oarabile Tsosa nominated for Junior Female Sportsperson for running 400m. Instead she is a 100m/200m runner and not 400m. Tshosa is also not the defending 400m 2017 Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) champion, but rather Gasebatho Bafedile from Mokobeng JSS. Another athlete who missed out on nomination is Winnie Sarefho from Tsodilo JSS who won gold in the 100m and 200m during the BISA competitions.  She went on to scoop a gold during the Confederation of School Sport Associations of Southern Africa (COSSASA) 100m and 200m in Zimbabwe. She also won silver medal in the 4x100m relay at both the BISA and COSSASA championships.

“The problem is that BAA only submit athletes that are in their system hence Sarefho was left out,” said BISA public relations officer, Letsweletswe Jonase. Meanwhile, the adjudication panel chairperson, Charmaine Khupe said there was no nomination that was overruled. She said the only challenge they had was the delays by sporting codes in submitting names. “The information that we have is what was given to us by codes. We also realised that most codes did not submit (names),” Khupe said.

The 38th annual awards ceremony is scheduled for September 15 at Ba Isago Convention Centre.




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