BNOC takes a leaf from Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games failures

It looks like the Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) is keen to implement the lessons from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as preparations for Paris 2024 Olympics loom.

This can be gleaned from the BNOC Secretary General Botho Bayendi’s report at the committee’s recent Ordinary General Meeting (OGM). Addressing BNOC affiliates, Bayendi acknowledged that Botswana had underperformed at the games.

Botswana had gone to the games with a target of eight (8) medals. The target was four (4) gold, two (2) silver and two (2) bronze. The team however managed only 2 medals from the games. These were a silver medal for the men’s 4X400m relay team and a bronze from Lethabo Modukanele in boxing.

In reference to the team’s participation and results garnered, Bayendi defined them as ‘a critical milestone towards the BNOC’s attainment of objectives in relation to Paris 2024.’ Lessons, it seems, have been learnt. And ahead of Paris 2024 Olympics, they need to be implemented.

The BNOC Secretary General attributed the abysmally poor return on medal target to ‘a series of events, some out of the control of the NOC.’ Among the reasons, she says, was the ‘late disbursement of funds for preparations.’ This disrupted the preparation schedule of federations.

Other factors included ‘the disruption and/or changes of team composition’ immediately before the games. while no details are given, it is a common cause that the withdrawal of Isaac Makwala just before the games ‘negatively impacted team morale.’

Botswana’s course was not helped by an ‘uptick in adverse antidoping findings/results.’ Ahead of the games, 800m runner Nijel Amos returned adverse analytical findings. He was then provisionally banned from competition on July 12 2022, sixteen days before the Commonwealth Games could begin. Joining him on the list of the ‘provisionally banned’ was Tlhalosang Tshireletso of triple jump who had also tested positive to a banned substance.

Now as Paris 2024 Olympics loom large, the BNOC is keen to avoid similar pitfalls. The NOC is said to be actively working on sourcing ‘adequate funding to support federations preparations. This, they believe, will help them ‘best facilitate potential success.’

“Discussions with stakeholders have been entered into, with the overall goal of harmonising efforts towards the success of Team Botswana,” Bayendi informed affiliates. Of interest, the BNOC Secretary General said they are engaging stakeholders with a view to diversify revenue streams.

To this effect, affiliates were informed that a business case with respect to the proposed increase of the subvention is currently being drafted. These will be presented to BNOC stakeholders with a view to get more funding.

With regards to the concerning issue of athletes testing positive for banned substances, the National Anti-Doping Coordinating Office (NADCO) has increased activities. A series of education workshops, coupled with continued stakeholder engagement are being undertaken. “As a result, the total number of anti-doping workshops increased exponentially to ten (10)at the time of reporting. This is indicative of the role that antidoping education plays in the success of elite competition and sport,” Bayendi told affiliates.

Meanwhile, the BNOC believes it was not all doom and gloom for Botswana at Birmingham Games. Poor performances aside, there were some positives to take from the games.

Among these was the increase in the number of sporting codes competing at the Birmingham 2022 Games. Compared to Gold Coast Games 2018 where only five sporting codes were represented, there were eight (8) sporting codes at the Birmingham 2022 Games.

According to Bayendi, this increase in participating codes ‘is indicative of the growth in potential and interest towards qualifying for major game competition.’ “This was a deliberate move, given the organisational objective of increasing the number of sports participating at Paris 2024,” she told affiliates. Another major positive was the number of female athletes. For the first time, the country had many female athletes at the games. “The total ratio of male to female athletes at the Birmingham 2022 Games represented the highest number of women representing Team Botswana at any edition of the Commonwealth Games. The seventeen (17) female athletes outnumbered their male counterparts, who numbered sixteen (16),” Bayendi highlighted.

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