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Botswana pins medal hopes on athletics as others falter

N.C.N. Limited 徽标 N.C.N. Limited 2021/7/31 Teng Junwei,unreguser
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Nijel Amos (C) of Botswana competes during the men's 800m heat at Tokyo 2020 on July 31, 2021. (Xinhua/Jia Yuchen)

Botswana is hopeful to harvest medals in athletics, as a number of runners look promising to make the finals.

TOKYO, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Botswana's biggest medal prospect Nijel Amos ran a 1:45.04 in men's 800m heats Saturday morning to qualify for the semifinals.

Having witnessed representatives from other sports knocked out this past week, the country's hopes of getting their second ever Olympic medal now solely lies with the athletics team.

This does not come as a surprise as athletics makes a significant portion of the 14-member team Botswana with 11 athletes. The past week saw two boxers Rajab Mahommed Otukile and Keamogetse Kenosi as well as swimmer James Freeman eliminated in their respective events.

Amos is so far the only athlete to win Botswana a medal at the games when he won silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

With a season's best of 1:42:91 he is amongst the favorites to clinch the Olympic 800m gold in Tokyo. He peaked at the right moment recording the time in the Monaco Diamond league in early July. The 27-year old was only 18 when he ran one of the best ever 800m races in the final of 2012 Olympics, being beaten to gold by Kenyan David Rudisha who set a world record.

Head coach Justice Dipeba said the team has been preparing hard for the games despite initial challenges caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

He said most of the athletes had peaked just before the games and he expects a good showing from them.

Another medal hopeful is 400m sprinter Isaac Makwala who has been recording improving times in the Diamond League. Makwala, the reigning Commonwealth Games champion will start his competition on Sunday morning with compatriot Leungo Scotch.

Veteran women 400m runner Amantle Montsho who announced that she will retire from the track after the Olympics will also want to leave a mark at the games. The 37-year-old former world champion will be pushing all the way to the final against younger competitors.

Still in the women 400m team there are two other former African champions Christine Botlogetswe and Galefele Moroko who are a force to reckon.

In the relays, Botswana will put their hopes on the men 4x400m team that won a bronze at the 2021 World Relays. The team is made up of youngsters Anthony Pesela and Bayapo Ndori as well as former African Junior champion Baboloki Thebe. Makwala and Scotch will join them after they are done with their individual races.

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