National teams find 2019 unforgiving

Scotch after the semi finals in Doha
Scotch after the semi finals in Doha

Botswana’s national representatives have found 2019 to be an unkind year with miserable performance across the sporting codes, the poorest in recent years.

The country has recorded unparalleled success in the last decade, across many sports codes, notably athletics.

But there has been a worrying reversal of fortunes in 2019, with the latest miserable performances at the just-ended IAAF World Championship held in Doha, Qatar.

Seasoned runners, Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda, did not make the trip. Team Botswana failed to reach the finals of any event as 400m African champions, Leungo Scotch and Galefele Moroko faltered in the semifinals of men and women’s races respectively. Injuries kicked out medal hopeful Nijel Amos and Christine Botlogetswe out of the competition early.

The men’s 4x400m relay team was disqualified after violating the baton exchange rule.

On the football pitches, fans were deprived of joy once again. This week, the Mares were knocked out of the 2020 Olympic games qualifiers.

The team lost 3-0 on aggregate after two-legged ties against Zambia. The Mares are joined by the Young Zebras who earlier this year bowed out of the men’s 2020 Olympic games with a 3-2 loss at the hands of Malawi. The senior team, the Zebras were defeated in the COSAFA Cup final while the Mares bowed out in the women’s edition. 

The girls’ Under-17 and the Under-20 bowed out of the semifinals of the inaugural COSAFA Championships of their age groups. The Zebras were booted out of the World Cup qualifiers at the first attempt, when they lost 1-0 to Malawi.

They did not go far in the African Nations Championships where Zambia, once again, proved the new irritant. Local karatekas also did not have the best year. Despite boasting some of the best talents in the continent, the karatekas continue to under-perform on the international stage. The highlight has been a bronze medal won by Ofentse Bakwadi at the African Games in the individual men’s Kata.

The softball pitches were also filled with disappointment. Softball had a splendid 2018 but failed to live up to same expectations thus far. The Under-19 girls team finished outside the top bracket at the World Cup held in the United States of America. The senior men and women’s teams did not perform well at the World Championships. 

However, the country had an inspiring performance at the Africa Games in August. The team brought home 14 medals from the competition; four of which were gold. A podium finish in Taekwondo was icing on the cake. 

Teenage sensation, Karabo Kula won a bronze medal in the women’s 46kg, a first for the country while biker, Ross Branch continues to raise the blue, black and white high. Local swimmers also raised their hands at various international competitions.

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