The day of reckoning has arrived as the Tokyo Olympic Games blast into full life with the opening ceremony scheduled for at the Olympic Stadium. Botswana has sent a strong team of 14 athletes, who have been handed the task of bringing home two medals.
The country only has one medal, won by Nijel Amos in 2012. But the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has not left any stone unturned in the quest for a second medal after kick-starting preparations in 2019.
This represents the longest time the team has prepared, due to the constant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike in the past, local spectators would have to stay up late to enjoy the biggest sport spectacle in the world, as Tokyo is seven hours ahead of Botswana.
Eight individual athletes and the 4x400m men’s relay team made up of six athletes have made it to Tokyo, with weightlifting making its debut, alongside regulars, athletics, and boxing and swimming.
Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) had envisaged sending 15 athletes with a target of two medals. In addition to the qualified athletes, James Freeman of swimming has been issued with a wild card entry. Amantle Montsho is making her fourth appearance at the Olympics. She made her maiden appearance at the 2004 games and she was the flag bearer at the 2012 games.
The 400m sprinter is expected to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics special and bow out with a medal. Another seasoned runner, Isaac Makwala is making his third appearance at the Olympics after his 2012 debut in London.
Makwala told Mmegi Sport that preparations have been going well. “So far so good even the food is great in Yokohama.
I will be going to the Olympics athletes village five days before my race. The team travels at different times according to the schedule,” he said. Amos has only one purpose in Japan; to claim his second Olympic medal.
The athlete has been off the track since his disappointing showing at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He came into action a fortnight ago at the Diamond League in Monaco with a stunning run as he made a statement, recording the world lead in the 800m.
Athletics coach, Justice Dipeba said the mood was high in the camp and everybody is looking forward to the start of the competition. In the boxing camp, there are jubilations after Keamogetse Sadie Kenosi managed to shed and reach the required weight.
The boxer came under scrutiny for being overweight. She has been working with Boago Lentshaletse to shed some weight. It is an indication that the trip to Russia worked wonders for the boxer.
Team manager, Gilbert Khunwane said they are relieved. “We are relieved that she managed to reach the 57kg. It has not been easy but with determination, she is now in shape. We have been worried and it was a stressful moment for all of us,” Khunwane said. The boxing team left Russia on Wednesday and they arrived in Japan yesterday. For her part, swimming coach, Alison Le Grange said Freeman completed his 10 days of isolation and training in Yokohama over the weekend. “We moved into the athletes’ village on Monday evening. His training went well in Yokohama. We have done two sessions in the competition pool and he is looking good and in a good mental space,” she said.
Freeman’s first race is on Saturday (400m freestyle) with the second one following on Sunday (200m freestyle). Weightlifter, Magdelene Moyengwa steps into action on Tuesday to compete in the 59kg category. Moyengwa arrived in Japan yesterday with her coach, Alex Rankgwe. “She is struggling with her back because we took some time not training because of isolation. This morning (Thursday), she had to see the physiotherapist to assist. We will also go for body conditioning,” Rankgwe said.