Reflecting on best-ever performance at World Championships

Stellar show: Tebogo won a silver and bronze in Budapest. PIC: TELLERREPORT.COM
Stellar show: Tebogo won a silver and bronze in Budapest. PIC: TELLERREPORT.COM

Local athletes who represented Botswana among 200 other nations in Budapest, Hungary, have returned home to a reception that was unexpectedly understated, rather than the heroic welcome that would have been fitting for their impressive achievement after winning two medals. Their performance marks Botswana's finest showing at a World Athletics Championships, as Staff Writer CALISTUS KOLANTSHO reports

A ceremonial welcome was scheduled for Wednesday, with attendance restricted to invitees only due to security considerations at the Debswana Corporate Centre in Gaborone. However, the ceremony was postponed in the morning, with communication relayed via a text message from Oabona Theetso, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) vice president-administration. He explained that several athletes and members of the management team were experiencing issues with missing luggage, leaving some athletes without suitable attire. Double medallist Letsile Tebogo, Collen Kebinatshipi, and the national team assistant coach, Kebonyemodisa ‘Dose’ Mosimanyane, were notably absent from the group that arrived at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on Tuesday. Botswana was ranked number 26 amongst the 200 countries that participated in the championships. This accomplishment was driven by the silver and bronze medals secured by Tebogo and Tshepiso Masalela, who qualified for the men's 800m final, thus earning a Paris Olympic Games 2024 ticket. This performance marked a significant improvement from last year's 51st-place finish in the competition held in Oregon, the United States. On paper, Botswana fielded a robust team for the champion ships, with about four athletes achieving sub-45s in the 400m event, while others demonstrated sub-46s performances.

The team experienced mixed fortunes, including the unfortunate disqualification of the men's 4x400m relay team. Additionally, a potential medal contender, Bayapo Ndori, sustained an injury during the semi-final, leading to his withdrawal from the relay. Some observers posited that the team's vulnerability to injuries could have been exacerbated by their arrival in Budapest on the eve of the competition. Furthermore, some analysts pointed out that the team's demanding schedule since the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 might have contributed to their fatigue. The women's 4x400 relay team faced disappointment as they failed to advance to the final. The new norm for athletics involves a tightly packed schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a condensed championship calendar. While the impact of the pandemic on the global calendar was acknowledged, it was also noted that the compressed schedule provided new opportunities for athletes to participate in significant competitions, akin to sportspersons in golf and tennis.

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