Trio boost BW’s Olympic numbers

Baitshepi Sekgweng
THREE MORE FOR PARIS: Ntweng, Nkape & Nowe

Following an underwhelming display at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Cameroon last month, three of the country’s athletes have reason to smile again.

In stumbling to an 8th place finish in West Africa, with two golds, three silvers and a bronze, Botswana’s 32-member squad failed to clock a single Olympic qualifying time.

The disappointment in Doula has been eased slightly by the news that 400m hurdler, Victor Ntweng as well as 800m pair, Oratile Nowe and Tumo Nkape will compete at the Games later this month thanks to their world rankings.

Ntweng, 29, becomes the first local hurdler to ever qualify for the Olympic Games.

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It increases BW’s Paris-bound athletes to nine, plus the 4x400m men’s relay team.

Ranked 24th in the world, Ntweng showed his pedigree in Cameroon, clinching the Gold in a time of 48.88 seconds to be crowned African champion.

It was actually a second slower than the 48.76s he clocked at the National Championships in May, falling agonizingly short of the Olympic qualifying standard 48.70s.

However, with the top 40 automatically making it to France, Ntweng’s history-making presence in Paris was never really in doubt.

Spare a thought for his Maun Athletics Club teammate, Kemorena Tisang. Currently rated the 41st best 400m hurdler on the planet, Tisang, 29, missed out on qualification by one place!

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There was no such heartache for Nowe, who will be the only lady representing Botswana at the Olympic Games.

Although she failed to impress in Cameroon, missing out on the podium with a 4th placed finish, her time of 2:01.39 way off the required 1:59.30, the 24-year-old Serowe speedster did enough to boost her world ranking from 42nd to 40th.

With the top 48 qualifying, Nowe made it through with room to spare, just rewards for a solid season.

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She will be joined on the plane to Paris by fellow 800m runner, Nkape.

The 26-year-old also managed a 4th placed finish, taking his world ranking to 39, which was more than good enough for qualification.

Despite running an impressive 38.19 in their heat, the men’s 4x100m relay team will miss out on France, World Athletics unable to ratify their time due to time-keeping system used in Uganda.

Focusing on the positives, BAA Vice President Administration, Oabona Theetso said he was delighted at extra qualifications.

“We are very impressed to have three additional athletes to our fold under the Olympic banner. For the first time we are sending a hurdler and four 800m runners, which is quite an achievement. We had qualified with the 100m relay team but sadly the results were not allowed since they used an unlicensed starting gun,” said Theetso.

With Athletics the only sports code flying the flag for BW in Paris, Botswana’s inexperienced team includes Olympic first-timers: Letsile Tebogo, Basung Kebinatshipi, Tshepiso Masalela and Kethobogile Hangira while Leungo Scotch and Bayapo Ndori will be competing at the sporting spectacle for the second time.

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