Gaborone - The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has tendered an apology to the international community after the southern African country’s relay team was disqualified at the just ended International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships.
Botswana’s hope for an IAAF World Championship medal came down tumbling following a mishap by the men’s 4x400 metres relay team which was disqualified for flouting baton exchange rules during the heats in Doha last week.
The team was made of Zibane Ngozi, Ditiro Nzamani, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Leungo Scotch. According to media reports, Scotch allegedly overstepped the beginning of exchange zone when receiving the baton from Nkobolo, hence the disqualification.
Vice president Oabona Theetso confirmed that the country’s men 4x400 metres relay team was disqualified after it violated section 170.19 of IAAF Competition Rules 2018-2019 which reads thus, “for all takeovers, athletes are not permitted to begin running outside their takeover zones and shall start within the zone.”
It also states that if an athlete does not follow this rule, his team shall be disqualified.
“We take this time to extend our deepest apologies to the nation and the athletics loves worldwide who were rallying behind the team for this unfortunate incident,” said Oabona. Botswana lodged an appeal, the jury reviewed the video and concluded that the exchange by Botswana team was illegal, therefore the appeal was rejected
He said the team manager and coach were able to repeatedly watch the video and they were convinced that the decision was taken meritoriously.
“Surely 2019 shall remain a year we will all dislike to remember as Athletics Botswana faced many challenges amongst others including missing going to World Relays, many injuries where we saw some of medals prospects such as Baboloki Thebe, Nigel Amos and the ladies 4x4000 relay missing out of action and now the disqualification,” said Oabona.
“… we humbly beseech the nation to offer emotional support to the team and avoid attacking it with any harsh words. The overstepping was just an act of pure mistake.”
Botswana Athletics Association president (BAA), Botlhale Phaphane said, “We have learnt lessons from Doha, but we have good building block to build on the journey, it is another journey, we are continuing. Tokyo 2020 is coming, we already have three athletes who have qualified. We are still going to make sure that the relay teams also qualify.”