THREE WAY TUSSLE...Thebe chases Van Niekerk and Merrit

07th July 2017
SPRINTER: Thebe Source:The Midweek Sun


By Isaac Pheko -

The athletics world was robbed during the 2016 Rio Olympic games when rising star Baboloki Thebe (400m) sustained an injury during the international showpiece that saw South African runner Wayde Van Niekerk winning a gold medal in the category. However, this time around the stage is set for a fit Thebe to finally come face to face with the raw pace of Van Niekerk and American LaShawn Merrit in Lausanne, Switzerland tomorrow (Thursday).

The athletics world is expected to stand still and savour the moment during the mouth watering 400m blockbusters, which also features Vernon Norwood (USA), Tony McQuay (USA), Michael Cherry (USA) and Machel Cedenio (Trinidad). However, betting house bookies will undoubtedly favour the indomitable South African who is at the peak of his powers. The 400m athlete currently holds both the world and Olympic championship.

The 24 year old who stands at 1.83m commands a blistering Personal Best (PB) of 43.03 sec while American powerhouse LaShawn Merrit commands a PB of 43.65sec. Nevertheless, the talented and youngest of the bunch Baboloki holds a personal best 44.22 sec and enters the race as an unknown entity with a lot to prove.

Mogomotsi Otsetswe’s protege knows this will be his time to shine and beating the likes of Van Neikerk and Merrit will make him a powerhouse in 400m. Having cleaned up in Africa along with compatriot Karabo Sibanda, Thebe has been touted as a prospect and rising star in 400m. However nagging injuries have haunted the Maun native, having forced him to undergo surgery.

The 20 year old is not short of confidence having recently finished on the podium during the IAAF Diamond league in Eugene, USA and making a statement by taking his maiden win in Oslo, Norway. In an interview this week former 800m runner Glody Dube said Thebe will be coming into the race as a relative unknown compared to his superstar rivals.

“He will be coming into the race with no pressure. His rivals have pressure because they come to the race to defend their reputations.” Dube believes the local runner has what it takes to beat the big names in the sport, adding that PB times of the star athletes does not mean a lot coming into the Thursday clash. Even though, Thebe is not accompanied by coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe, Dube said the athlete will be expected to do well on his own as the IAAF does not cater for coaches during the Diamond League. Dube said athletes focus more on competing at the Diamond league than training. Meanwhile, Dube said competing in the Diamond league does not threaten Thebe’s chances of giving a good performance during the upcoming IAAF World championships scheduled for London, UK next month.

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