Gaborone — USA-based, Nijel Amos and Ivory Coast-based, Baboloki Thebe will miss the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA)’s National Athletics Championships to be held at the National Stadium over the weekend .
The two are said to have received invitations late as they had already made plans at their bases.
The championships are a big event in the association’s calendar, as it attracts even athletes from neighbouring countries.
Over the past years, BAA had ensured that all its elite athletes competed in the event, given that it has the potential to qualify some for major events.
This year’s edition is expected to give athletes an opportunity to prepare and qualify for major athletics competitions such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, World Athletics Championship (2022), World Athletics U20 Championships and Africa Senior Championships.
Amos confirmed in an interview, that he would miss the championships because the evnt clashed with his schedule.
Furthermore, he said travelling to Botswana would take him 48 hours and he would need at least five days adjustment from time difference, but with just a few days left until the race, it seemed impossible.
Amos said he had a race lined up for May 15 in the US and he was also scheduled to compete again at the Doha Diamond League on May 28.
“So with travelling plans already in place, ticket purchased from the United States, this will cause some inconvenience,” he said.
The 2012 Olympic silver medalist also said with the COVID-19 pandemic still threatening the world, his technical team wanted to minimise his travels.
Amos however said it was a sad situation for him given that an opportunity to race at home was always something that he had treasured and cherished.
Thebe also said when they received an invitation letter from BAA, his team had already drawn a plan for him.
He said for the past two weeks, he was in an intensive training, adding that his coach, Anthony Koffi believed he would be ready for major competitions next month.
He said travelling and competing after an intensive training would put him at risk of injuries, something he was trying to avoid.
BAA vice president technical, Tshepo Kelaotswe said their desire was that all Batswana athletes should compete at the championships as they helped to gauge athletes’ readiness for qualifying for major events
He said they had hoped that the duo would honour the invitation, given that the championships were in the BAA calendar of events for long.
Track and field analyst, Aobakwe Showa said it was always going to be a challenge for both athletes to make such long trips, especially during these COVID-19 pandemic times.
Thebe, he said had recently moved to the base and a lot had to come into play considering that he was new to the setup and the coach.
Showa said on the other hand, Amos had already qualified for the Olympics and for him it was all about strategic planning, few races and less traveling in order to avoid fatigue.
“I believe their absence will not have much an impact on the performance we are anticipating to see over the weekend. All these quarter-milers know what is at stake and everybody wants to make the relay team to Tokyo, as well as CAA in Algeria. For me that’s enough motivation,” he said.
Former 800m athlete, Omogolo Ramoroba, said the absence of the two would deprive the event of the needed superstar effect.
He said Amos recently ran a time of 45.69s in 400m and logically, that meant he was in a 1:41/1:42 shape, hence his presence in the championships would mean Personal Best Times or even qualification standards for major events by some 800m athletes, especially Tshepiso Masalela.
Furthermore, he said Thebe had been a dominant force in the 400m in Botswana and whenever he competed, spectators were guaranteed a fast time for him and his counterparts.
“People should not forget that Thebe is the second fastest 400m athlete in Botswana with a Personal Best of 44.02s and we all know that he can accomplish any goal once he sets his mind to it,” Ramoroba said.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>