‘We had a vision’ - Serufho

In 2010 Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) decided to cease sending athletes to major games unless they met qualifying standards and now with Rio just around the corner the benefits are apparent with Botswana sending the biggest number of qualifying athletes.

"This development shows that we had a vision on 2010. We wanted to ensure that athletes truly earned their place to major Games and hence not develop some sense of entitlement which is detrimental to development," said Tuelo Serufho, the Botswana National Olympic Committee(BNOC) Chief Executive Officer.

During the 2012 London Olympics Botswana sent only four athletes but secured the country's best ever performance with Amos's 800m silver medal.

"Now because of the 2010 decision there is improvement as we managed to win our first ever Olympic medal, there is greater focus at National Federation level. Athletes are working harder hence the reason we are witnessing this unprecedented qualification for a single Olympic Games," Serufho said.

Serufho said that they are facing financial challenges as they have little money from both the Government of Botswana and the International Olympic Committee.
"Just one athlete require a few hundreds of thousand Pula, and in some cases in excess of a million pula to sufficiently prepare them to compete successfully at the games," he said.

Fortunately, Choppies have announced that they will reward athletes according to their performances at Rio with Gold medal winners scheduled to be given P 1 000 000, Silver P 500 000, Bronze P 250 000 whereas any finalist will scoop P 75 000.

It is allegedly no surprise to see athletics doing well in qualifications as they are the only code that have consistently been representing Botswana at the Olympics since 1980. "Over the years we have seen some improvement in our performance in track and field. While only a few members of the first team we sent in 1980 were able complete their events, we saw in subsequent games not only completing their event but starting to go beyond the preliminary rounds," Serufho revealed.

Over the years athletes have always urged BNOC to allow them to travel with their personal coaches as they understand them better. "I cannot commit that each athlete will travel with their personal coach as that is dependent on many things, including amongst others the availability of coaches and funds to support such coaches. What I can assure is the best effort will be made to have athletes accompanied by their coaches, especially those with greatest potential to win medals," highlighted Serufho.

Serufho said that the target of medals still stands at two despite more athletes qualifying.

"Remember while a bigger number may enhance your chances of winning medals, it does not necessarily follow that the more athletes you have the greater medals you will win. What matters at the Olympics is not the quantity that you have but rather the quality, in fact a very small percentage of athletes win medals at their first Olympics but they only get medals on their 2nd or 3rd games," remarked Sefufho.

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