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Nagging injuries haunt Thebe

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Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) national team coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe this week said sensational sprinter Babuluki Thebe will now concentrate in 400m races only. In a recent interview Otsetswe said as the 2018 Australia Commonwealth games fast approaches, Thebe has to stay focused in his main category. The young athlete will no longer be competing in 100m or 200m events for the remaining BAA track and field events. Thus far, Mogomotsi said he was impressed by the athlete performance since the beginning of the season.

Thebe just recovered from recurring injuries that have been threatening his running career and Otsetswe said they have to be cautious with him in training. Thebe’s performance this past weekend at the BAA super night track and field event held in Lobatse might have also contributed to the coach’s decision fearing unexpected injuries. In his 400m run at Lobatse, Thebe came in third after Karabo Sibanda and Onkabetse Nkobolo. The athlete appeared to have picked yet another injury in the last 200m of the race, he struggled to reach the finishing point. However, he managed to push himself and recorded 46.20s. Thebe’s teammate Karabo Sibanda who was competing for the first time this season managed to clock an impressive 45.58s that saw him claim first position.

“I do not know what could be wrong because I have not spoken to him yet, but I saw that he was struggling towards the finishing point. We have to be careful with Thebe and I have advised him that every time he feels that he cannot run any further, he should pull back because we still need him,” Otsetswe said. Thebe described his visible thigh pain as a minor muscle strain and nothing serious.

The athletes brushed off the injury, adding that he would be fine in a few days and ready for the next race. The African 400m champion said he has to put in more effort during training, “ I had an early warm up and our race was the last one of the eight heats. I believe that is what triggered this pain,” Thebe said. Quizzed on whether he will be going back to sprint races anytime soon, Thebe explained that he uses the short races to improve his speed but he has to follow his coach’s instructions. The ambitious Maun native said he is aiming to finish in the top three at the upcoming Commonwealth games.

Other elite athletes who performed wonders on the day are former world champion Amantle Montsho who easily won the 400m women clocking 51.78s. “For me this was like a test, its good to begin the season with 51s, I am really impressed. If I can qualify for the IAAF Diamond league this season I will be really happy.” Montsho said shortly after her race. Loungo Matlhaku also was an unstoppable force in the 100m women, defeating Christine Botlogetswe with a time of 11.56s while Botlogetswe came second with a time of 11.81s.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney

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CONFIDENT: Newly unveiled LOC is confident that the regional tourney will be a success

Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.

The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.

Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.

For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.

He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.

According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.

Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

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Branch does it again

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Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.

The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.

At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.

Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.

Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.

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