He was under 20% ready and injured for Rio
Tongues wagged and fingers pointed in a heated media briefing this week when University of Botswana’s Sports and Recreation Manager, Raj Rathedi, accused the Botswana National Olympics Committee of failing athlete, Keatlaretse Mabote, ahead of the 2016 Paralympics.
Rathedi who was Mabote’s head coach in Rio believes that with shoddy preparation before the games, a podium finish was always going to be a far fetched dream.
This week the outspoken Rathedi spoke out of frustration how he met with Mabote only five months before the competition.
It was at that time, after an assessment that Rathedi realized that the athlete had not been training and was physically unfit.
The coach’ biggest challenge was to then design a training program for someone who had not been training, yet going to a competition of that magnitude.
All in an effort to compensate for the lost time, as Rathedi believes- their preparations should have long begun at least over a year ago.
“We had our first camp in Potchefstroom, South Africa, but after that everything fell apart. There was no support whatsoever and we could still go up to three weeks without meeting with the athlete. As a coach this was very frustrating because every time we met, we had to compensate for the lost time. Despite going to Germany, Tunisia or China we were less than 20% ready for Rio,” blasted Rathedi.
The disappointed coach further revealed that his athlete had no running spikes and training equipment during the entire training period, only to get them while in Rio.
As if it was not enough the spikes given to the athlete were not the right ones, not once but twice as they were for middle distance runners, and some of the spikes were missing from the pair.
The duo had to end up compromising and connecting the new spikes to Mabote’s old running boots.
Rathedi noted he only got to spend full time with the athlete only two weeks prior to the competition, adding that at the time he had requested a medical assessment from a friend after realizing Mabote was in pain but relevant authorities never did anything about it.
“All this things were frustrating because I knew he was going to compete amongs the best and had we not compromised, he was going to run bare footed. When leaving Botswana we had totally forgotten about securing a medal and focusing on improving his personal best. Had we tried to push for under 50seconds he was going to get injured. So I’m glad we got our 51seconds target set new personal and national record,” Rathedi consoled himself.
However the Botswana National Olympic Committee CEO Tuelo Serufho defended his organization saying they treated Mabote just like the team that went to the Olympics.
Serufho said no athletes were given their gear before arriving in Rio, adding that though Paralympics is not within their mandate, they opted to assist because they knew of Paralympics Association of Botswana (PASSOBO)’s short falls.
“We did all that we could to help Mabote and his team ahead of and during the competition because we did not want them to feel different from other athletes. We had even released funds at around much to get the athletes equipment as per PASSOBO’s request. But people must know that the Olympics and Paralympics are two different competitions run by two different bodies,” refuted Serufho.
For their part PASSOBO acknowledged that to some extent they failed the athlete and the nation at large.
They attributed the unfortunate incident to failure in communication between themselves, BNOC, Chef De Mission and Rathedi.
“Yes, it is clear that there was failure on our part as the association. However this is a lesson learnt as we habour dreams to have more representation from different codes in future. So I honestly don’t think resigning will be a solution to the problems we found ourselves in,” said Titus Kebuileng, who is PASSOBO’s secretary General