Botswana sends strong team to IAAF World Athletics Championships

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-29 20:08:15|Editor: Xiang Bo
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GABORONE, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Botswana will have what is arguably its strongest ever team to compete at the 2017 IAAF World Championships to kick off in London early August.

Having only won one medal in the history of the championships, Botswana has its prospects look brighter than ever after it has in recent years emerged as a powerhouse in the middle distance sprint events, especially the 400m.

The team, made up of 12 athletes, left the country last week for a training camp in Cardiff to help them acclimatize before the championships starts on August 4th.

In an interview with Xinhua this week, Botswana athletics team coach Justice Dipeba said he was very optimistic of bringing some medals from the championships, as the preparations of the team went on well and the athletes had their peak form at the right time just prior to the championships.

The most medal hopeful is 400m and 200m sprinter Isaac Makwala who looks to be in a rich vein of form just in time for the championships, said Dipeba.

The 30-year-old former African record holder has the second leading time of the year, only behind world record holder Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa.

He recently became the first athlete to do a sub-45sec and sub-20sec in the 400m and 200m respectively in a meet in Madrid, Spain. And he will compete in both events in London as well as the 400m relay.

Botswana also pins hope on 2012 London Olympic 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos. The 23-year-old has had mixed fortunes following his burst to glory as an 18-year-old five years ago. He was knocked out of the heats at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Yet, he seemed to have rediscovered his form ever since relocating to the Unites States this year, having won three consecutive races in the IAAF Diamond League leading to the championships.

With his major opponent, Kenyan two-time Olympic winner and world record holder David Rudisha still to reach peak form this year, Amos looks set to win a medal at the stadium where he made history in 2012.

Botswana's 400m men's relay team, the silver medallists at the Relays Worlds earlier this year, will also be gunning for glory at the championships. The team was narrowly beaten by the USA for gold in the Bahamas and will be up to earn their glory in London.

Botswana's two other 400m runners Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda are also potential finalists. Thebe currently leads the IAAF Diamond League standings, while Sibanda, the Rio Olympic finalist, has just returned from an injury sustained earlier this season and has been steadily returning to good form.

The women's 400m relay team, anchored by veteran Amantle Montsho, will also be hoping to make their mark at the championships. Montsho, the first and only athlete to win Botswana a medal at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in 2011, returned from a two-year doping ban this year and will be looking to prove that she is still a force to reckon in the 400m.