Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is very much aware that 2022 is going to be a busy year for them because it is packed with several international competitions, the Vice President Administration of the organization, Oabona Theetso, has said in an interview.
“Athletes have already begun with their pre-season training with their coaches in different clubs,” Theetso said. “They will have their first competition on January 15th 2021. It will be their first of many as we want more athletes to qualify for next year’s international competitions, which include the African Senior Athletics Championships, the World Athletics Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the World Athletics U20 Championships.”
Responding to a question about going into a training camp for the competitions, Theetso said: “Only three athletes have qualified for the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games, so it is best that we wait for more to qualify. We do not want to pick a team based on history because it is not a guarantee that the athletes who were at this year’s Olympic Games are going to take part in next year’s competitions. We have to be fair to all athletes and give them an equal chance. Yet again, these competitions are going to be expensive for us so we have to manage our budget well.”
Thus far, Nijel Amos (800m), Isaac Makwala (200m and 400m) and Anthony Pesela (400m) are the only athletes to have qualified for the World Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games. They are in Botswana’s best performing sporting code whose record means there is constant pressure to do progressively better.
The pressure is becoming pronounced as 2022 approaches with its full calendar that includes the 2022 African Athletics Championships for senior athletes from June 8 to 12 at the Côte d’Or Sports Complex in Mauritius, which hosted a part of the 2019 Indian Ocean Island Games in the island state.
A month later, BAA will have to send a team to the Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships, the extraordinary showcase that will take centre stage in the heart and home of track and field in Eugene, Oregon in the United States from 15 to 24 July. The championships will be taking place in the United States for the very first time.
The last and only person to win a medal for Botswana at the World Athletics Championships (Senior) is Amantle Montsho, who retired recently. She did so by winning a 400m gold medal at the 2011 Daegu World Athletics Championships before settling for a silver in the 400m medal at the Moskva edition of the World Athletics Championships in 2013.
Just a week after the World Athletics Championships, BAA will guide a team to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games that will be held in venues across Birmingham and the West Midlands from 28 July to 8 August. Birmingham sits in the heart of the UK and it will be the third time for England to host the Games, following on from London in 1934 and more recently Manchester in 2002.
One of the youngest cities in Europe, Birmingham is vibrant and richly diverse. It will welcome determined athletes from 72 nations across the world in a momentous celebration of sports, competition and community.
Botswana’s athletics team brought home four medals from the previous edition of the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia in 2018, these being Makwala’s gold in the men’s 400m, Baboloki Thebe’s silver in the men’s 4x400m, Montsho’s gold in the women’s 400m, the men’s 4x400m relay team gold and the women’s 4x400m bronze.
Yet another competition that BAA will send a team to is the Cali 2022 World Athletics U20 Championships, also known as the World Junior Championships, which is an international athletics meet for athletes qualifying as juniors. It will be held from 1 to 6 August 2022 at the Estadio Olímpico Pascual Guerrero in Cali, Colombia. In the busy schedule of next year, some of Botswana’s athletes will also take part in the Wanda Diamond League meets which will take place between May 13 and 8 September 2022.