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Team Botswana confident ahead of Beijing games

GABORONE - The 12-member team to the 2008 Beijing Olympic games will win some medals, says Dr Martin Mokgwathi.

"I do not believe in luck but in preparations which I believe is what this team did before the games," said Dr Mokgwathi.

Speaking at the presentation of national colours to the team this week in Gaborone, Dr Mokgwathi, who is the chef de mission to the games promised that they would grab the opportunity and make the nation proud.

He said it is time to prepare for the next Olympic games in 2012 and to send more athletes.

The Beijing bound team is made up of eight athletes, two boxers and two swimmers.

The team has two female athletes, Amantle Montsho and Samantha Paxisons, which is a new record. Montsho is a 400m athlete while Paxisons is a swimmer.

Khumiso Ikgopoleng (54kg) and Thato Batshegi (57kg) would represent the country in the boxing category.

The athletics team is made up of Gable Garenamotse (long jump), Kabelo Kgosiemang (high jump), Montsho (400m), California Molefe (400m), Bashingili Ndabili (marathon), Fanuel Kenosi (400m), Gakologelwang Masheto (400m) and Onalenna Baloyi (800m).

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mrs Gladys Kokorwe, who will also attend the games, said the team has to appear in the medals podium.

She noted that the team went for pre-games training overseas to sharpen their skills.

Mrs Kokorwe noted that the country has an abundance of talent to compete with the best in the world. She commended the private sector for supporting sport in the country.

She said there is still a lot that needs to be done to encourage the involvement of women in elite sport.

The President of the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), Mr Negroes Kgosietsile, said it was not easy to select the team, adding that they have the right as the BNOC to set their own standards of qualification.

He argued that they want to ensure that the athletes are competitive and could win.

He said there is need to come up with a national blueprint that would guide the identification of talent.

Former President Sir Ketumile Masire and Lady Olebile Masire as well as sport dignitaries and business people also graced the presentation ceremony.

The Chinese Ambassador to Botswana, Mr Ding Xiaowen, officially presented P24 000 to the athletes. Each athlete will pocket P2 000 to spend while in Beijing.The games will commence on August 8. BOPA  

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