Photo Credit: Making of Champions / PaV Media Ltd

This has been a breakout year for Botswana’s youngster Karabo Sibanda, with the 18-year old qualifying for the final of the men’s 400m after racing to a Personal Best (PB) of 44.47s to finish 3rd in Heat 1 of the semis behind defending champion Kirani James (44.02s) and Beijing 2015 Silver medallist LaShawn Merritt (44.21s).

Sibanda snatched one of the two fastest losers spots after improving on the PB he set at last month’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland where he clocked a time of 45.15s in the semis, before going on to win Bronze in the 400m and Silver in the 4x400m.

The African Junior Champion had earlier in the year, stormed to a Silver medal in the 400m at the African Senior Championships in Durban where he was inspired by teammate Baboloki Thebe who won GOLD. The pair also teamed up with their compatriots to win the 4x400m title as well.

The season hasn’t been as fantastic for Thebe though as the 19-year old Did Not Start (DNS) his race in Heat 2 of the semis in Rio, despite having qualified from the heats the day before after placing 3rd in 45.41s. It is not yet clear why the teenager was missing from the race.

It will be recalled that Thebe, who was favoured to win the men’s title in Poland, did not eventually make it to the final of his event after being disqualified for a lane infringement in the semis.

Meanwhile their older counterpart Isaac Makwala was in action in Heat 3 of the semis. However the former African Champion did not qualify for the final after finishing 8th in 46.60s, with Grenada’s Bralon Taplin winning the race.

As such, Sibanda, who is making his debut to the Olympics, is the only Botswana athlete that has qualified for the final of a Track and Field event in Rio. London 2012 Silver medallist in the 800m, Nijel Amos made a shocking exit from his event after placing 7th in the heats, bringing his Rio 2016 journey to a premature end.

Photo Credit: Making of Champions / PaV Media Ltd
Photo Credit: Making of Champions / PaV Media Ltd

 

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sportswriter and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She also freelances for World Athletics.

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