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THREE WAY TUSSLE…Thebe chases Van Niekerk and Merrit

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The athletics world was robbed during the 2016 Rio Olympic games when rising star Baboloki Thebe (400m) sustained an injury during the international showpiece that saw South African runner Wayde Van Niekerk winning a gold medal in the category. However, this time around the stage is set for a fit Thebe to finally come face to face with the raw pace of Van Niekerk and American LaShawn Merrit in Lausanne, Switzerland tomorrow (Thursday).

The athletics world is expected to stand still and savour the moment during the mouth watering 400m blockbusters, which also features Vernon Norwood (USA), Tony McQuay (USA), Michael Cherry (USA) and Machel Cedenio (Trinidad). However, betting house bookies will undoubtedly favour the indomitable South African who is at the peak of his powers. The 400m athlete currently holds both the world and Olympic championship.

The 24 year old who stands at 1.83m commands a blistering Personal Best (PB) of 43.03 sec while American powerhouse LaShawn Merrit commands a PB of 43.65sec. Nevertheless, the talented and youngest of the bunch Baboloki holds a personal best 44.22 sec and enters the race as an unknown entity with a lot to prove.

Mogomotsi Otsetswe’s protege knows this will be his time to shine and beating the likes of Van Neikerk and Merrit will make him a powerhouse in 400m. Having cleaned up in Africa along with compatriot Karabo Sibanda, Thebe has been touted as a prospect and rising star in 400m. However nagging injuries have haunted the Maun native, having forced him to undergo surgery.

The 20 year old is not short of confidence having recently finished on the podium during the IAAF Diamond league in Eugene, USA and making a statement by taking his maiden win in Oslo, Norway. In an interview this week former 800m runner Glody Dube said Thebe will be coming into the race as a relative unknown compared to his superstar rivals.

“He will be coming into the race with no pressure. His rivals have pressure because they come to the race to defend their reputations.” Dube believes the local runner has what it takes to beat the big names in the sport, adding that PB times of the star athletes does not mean a lot coming into the Thursday clash. Even though, Thebe is not accompanied by coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe, Dube said the athlete will be expected to do well on his own as the IAAF does not cater for coaches during the Diamond League. Dube said athletes focus more on competing at the Diamond league than training. Meanwhile, Dube said competing in the Diamond league does not threaten Thebe’s chances of giving a good performance during the upcoming IAAF World championships scheduled for London, UK next month.

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Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19

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Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.

Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.

“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.

Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.

“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.

Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year  for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having  already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.

“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”

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BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet

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Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.

Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe.  No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.

Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.

However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry  of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”

Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.

However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.

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