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Zoro loses his spikes

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Fans of local track and field star Nijel Amos maybe be thinking that they suffer from a curious case of déjà vu… following their idol’s repeated slump at world class competitions.

Since the 2016 Rio Olympic games the once promising track star has systematically botched every major event he has entered which left his followers wondering whether he will ever find his speed again. Six years ago, Amos made arguably the greatest sporting moment in the country’s history when he won Olympic silver in 800m with a blistering 1.41.73sec when he finished behind Kenya’s indomitable David Rudisha.

The Rio Olympics saw Amos suffering an embarrassing fall before moving on to the 2017 IAAF World Championships when he dashed the hopes of his fans after finishing outside a podium place. After winning silver in London, the local middle-distance star moved on to the 2014 Glasgow, Scotland Commonwealth Games when he defeated his arch nemesis David Rudisha and won gold.

The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games were Zoro’s next chance to defend his 800m title and reignite his fading track career. However, the question on the lips of his supporters is what happened to the swift and charismatic Zoro. The problem it seems is that the young runner has not stayed and trained in one place for satisfactory amount of time.

For the past six years the celebrity athlete has trained in Botswana, South Africa, Kenya and now USA. Experts in the field have argued that this has diminished the runner’s chances finding his form and consistently finish in podium places. In an interview this week, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Thari Mooketsi said Amos has travelled to different places in the world after the contract he signed with Nike some years ago.

Mooketsi said the contract has seen Amos joining other athletes from all over the world who have benefitted from the same shoe brand contract. However, Mooketsi said his Association is troubled by Amos’ recent slump in performance. “He is not performing well and we wonder if these are just injuries or there are other elements involved.” The BAA president said there was no need for contact with the people that manage and train Amos. “We should be monitoring him a lot closer and we have not done that. It is not a good situation.

Mooketsi said they frequently check on the athlete through telephone and he usually gives positive responses. Quizzed on whether Amos is exposed to highly advanced and experimental performance enhancers in the US, Mooketsi said, there might be a possibility. The BAA president said he is aware that Americans are highly advanced and experimental when it comes to top athletes and their performance on the field.

Mooketsi gave an example of a previous case in which Americans had interest in 400m Queen Amantle Montsho. “After winning her gold medal at the World Championships, Americans did research on Montsho’s hormone genetic makeup to establish what made her perform on the track. They even interviewed her parents and did research on her background to see what made her a top athlete.” Nevertheless, Mooketsi said Amos had signed a contract that might be left with only one year.

In addition, Mooketsi said they will soon be in contact with the athlete to consider possibilities of coming back to Botswana. Commenting on the matter, former 800m national team runner Glody Dube said Amos must be asking himself what he is doing wrong at the moment. Dube said it does not help that the runner has been based in many countries which has come with its own problems. “He must come back home, he has been given the opportunity to travel around the world.

This happens with every athlete if they have opportunities.” Dube questioned why Amos is based in the US as the country is not even good at 800m races as they specialise in sprints.” It is true that Americans are all about performance and there are possibilities they do experiment on athletes.” Dube who has travel and competed around the world said he has been aware of cases where blood is taken from athletes during their peak only for the blood sample to be transfused back into their systems when they take a slump in performance. “Such things exist, it is not only in the US but also Russia. Nijel should come back home. When he was based here he ran 1:41 sec but now he can’t even run 1:45sec. He was younger then, we expected him to gain speed as he grew older. However, we still believe in him.”

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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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