World Champs' Nightmare Ends Awfully

Botswana's hope for a medal at the IAAF World Championships was shattered when the men's 4x400m relay team was disqualified in the heats.
Botswana's hope for a medal at the IAAF World Championships was shattered when the men's 4x400m relay team was disqualified in the heats.

After a very disappointing showing by team Botswana at the World Championships, the men’s 4x400m relay team was disqualified and failed to reach the final.

Botswana sent a weak team at the just ended Doha 2019 games without seasoned runners including Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda. With the absence of the key athletes, the low turn out of medals was always anticipated.

Last week, all the individual athletes failed to reach the finals of either event. The team started on a low note with Amos pulling out of the 800m heats due to an injury. Christine Botlogetswe could not proceed beyond the first round, finishing sixth with a time of 53.27 in the heats.

Making her debut, at the World Championships, Galefele brought glimpse of hope as she finished first with a Personal Best (PB) of 50.59 in the heats. But injury struck in the semi final. Ditiro Nzamani finished fourth with a time of 46.19 in his heats and therefore could not progress. Leungo Scotch qualified for the semi finals, where he finished fifth with a PB of 45.00 but could not proceed to the finals.

The hopes of podium finish, of which the last came at Deagu, South Korea, fell unto the relay teams. However, the injury struck women’s 4x400m relay team and it was left for the men’s team to carry the load.  The team made up of Zibane Ngozi, Ditiro Nzamani, Onkabetse Nkobolo and African champion, Scotch finished fourth in the heats with a time 3.03.63 to secure a berth in the final.

The time also meant the team had also qualified for the 2020 Olympic games.  However, they were disqualified after violating Section 170.19 of IAAF Competitions Rules. The rule reads ‘For all takeovers, athletes are not permitted to begin running outside their takeover zones and shall start within the zone.

If an athlete does not follow this rule, his team will be disqualified. The team had their appeal dismissed.

“The team manager and coach were able to repeatedly watch the video and they were convinced that the decision was taken meritoriously.

We take this time to extend our deepest apologies to the nation and athletics lovers worldwide who were rallying behind the team for his unfortunate incident,” a statement from Botswana Athletics Association reads.  This year’s world championship is worst performance by the local team at an international stage in recent years.

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