The legend of the barefoot runner, Kaelo Mosalagae, might have come to an abrupt end at the weekend’s Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) cross country finals held in Gaborone.
The eagerly anticipated 10km race saw the 35 years old barefoot runner drop out 20 minutes into the race due to the El Niño fuelled scotching heat before a decent number of marathon supporters. Besides the heat that proved too much for his ‘no running shoes’ policy, the dominant veteran also had to contend with sharp stones that form part of the character of the hilly race course next to Riverwalk shopping mall.
As supporters were preparing themselves for a fantastic climax sprint to the finish line that usually includes Mosalagae and bitter rivals Sesebo Matlapeng and Shepherd Kenatshele, the barefoot runner was suddenly nowhere to be seen.
“I have never competed in this sort of heat before, it was simply too hot for me,” Mosalagae said after some junior and female competitors were left incapacitated by the heat. “I cannot say much I was lacking something today. I will be back in the next events.”
Meanwhile there could have been more to Mosalagae’s early demise than the heat during the intense race. It later emerged that the 2016 BAA cross-country champion Shepherd Kenatshele came to the race with a chip on his shoulder following earlier trash talk and mind games by Mosalagae.
“I cannot say much about the race. Mosalagae called for a rematch. At the last series race before the finals in Kopong he said I beat him by mistake,” said the dominant Kenatshele. The new force in cross country Marathons clearly sent a message to his rivals before challenging rival Mosalagae to record better race times if he claims to be the best.
Kenatshele, who represents SSKB Athletics club, won the race in style after sheer dominance from the first whistle. “I am not even a cross country runner. I am naturally an 800m runner. I just compete in this race because it helps me with endurance and speed.” Kenatshele harbours ambitions to compete at Olympic Games.
He castigated local sporting authorities for overlooking him during international assignments for weaker runners. Kenatshele is expected to compete at the inter-military games scheduled for Molepolole later this month.
Meanwhile, dominant female runner Onneilwe Dintwe won the senior women’s 10 km in what came as no surprise. “I am happy with my time of 35min 20sec. Even though I had hoped for a sub 34 min time,” she said.
Dintwe will compete at the 2016 Gaborone Diacore half marathon in April before going on to compete at the international Durban marathon in South Africa in May.
After the race, BAA president Moses Bantsi said they will now select a team with a minimum of six athletes who will represent the country at the Africa cross country championships in Yaounde, Cameroon on 26th March.
“We will select from both senior and juniors. All categories have generally done well during the race. The guy who won the men’s race showed a lot of improvement given that this was a rather tough course,” Bantsi said.
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
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.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
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.