Athlete’s mum accuses BAA of abandoning injured son
Once tipped as a future World Champion, Karabo Sibanda’s rise to prominence can be traced back to Nanjing, China and the 2014 Youth Olympics.
In the oppressive Asian humidity, the then 15-year-old scooped a Silver medal in the 400m, running a time of 46.76 to stun his more fancied opponents and announce himself on the world stage.
A fifth place followed at the Rio Olympics two years later as Sibanda’s star continued to burn bright.
However, on the eve of his nineteenth birthday, Sibanda would pull up with a hamstring injury at the Diamond League’s May 2017 Eugene meet.
It is an injury that, 20 months later, continues to trouble the chess-loving athlete leading to his mother, Masego Sibanda accusing the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) of abandoning her son.
In an explosive, exclusive interview with Voice Sport, Masego claimed Sibanda has received no help from the BAA since sustaining his niggling career-stalling injury.
The upset mum revealed Sibanda is currently in London seeking medical attention at his own expense with the help of his manager, Edward Griffiths.
“Karabo communicated with his manager, telling him about the situation and he suggested he come to UK. After some time he was feeling better and he went to Jamaica where he was staying with Usain Bolt’s coach.
“He also trained with Bolt’s club but started feeling the pain again and went back to London see the doctor. His manager has so far spent over US$18, 000 (P180, 000) and now he wants me to assist with medical expenses,” said Masego, adding she considered selling her house and car last month to help pay for her child’s recovery.
According to Masego, she contacted the BAA to let them know of her intentions but they persuaded her not to sell her assets and promised to help.
However, she says they have not been in touch since.
“It is so painful that my son is getting help from other people internationally when our athletics body doesn’t care. They only know my son when he is injury free! I am very disappointed at them and tired of their empty promises.
“I want what is best for my son and I will do anything to ensure that he is back on his feet because running is his job!” she seethed, telling Voice Sport she has advised Sibanda to come home and report the matter to the ministry.
When reached for a comment, BAA Public Relations Officer, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba insisted the association is taking care of its athletes.
However, he admitted they were unsure of Sibanda’s current whereabouts but had heard rumours he was training in Jamaica.
“We have been talking about him this week when doing plan for the major events. Though we do not know where he is we decided to include him in the national 4×4 relay team for upcoming competitions.
“We are to contact his parents so that they can share his new contacts and we locate him. Karabo is a very good athlete, the procedure is if he was not satisfied with local medical help we can assist to help with international referral. I think something was not done right,” concluded Ramatshaba diplomatically.
For one of Botswana’s brightest young stars, these are dark times indeed.