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BCF to assemble national team

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Following a highly competitive Metropolitan Chess Championships held in Gaborone over the Easter Holidays, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) is expected to assemble a formidable national team of ten players by the end of this month. The team is expected to represent the country at the Chess Olympiad scheduled for September 2018 in Batumi, Georgia. So far, only four athletes being International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse, Fide Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho, Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis and Kgaleleo Botlhole are certain of their places as the national team list is yet to be finalised. According to BCF spokesperson Kutlwano Tatolo, they will host another tournament to select the remaining best six players. She explained that they have to pick three best players on the ladies section and three more in the open section.

However, Kutlwano said it would not be an easy task given the level of seriousness portrayed by players on the board. She said majority of players appear thirsty to compete at the Olympiad and the weekend results are a testimony to this. “The tables have turned, Chess is no longer a one man show, even our former champions found it hard to defend their titles despite the level of determination and the splendid performance,” she said. Coming into the 2018 Olympiad, it is the sincere hope of the BCF that local players will manage to improve their rankings or better win a category medal despite the stiff competition ahead.

Back in 2016 at Baku Azerbaijan, WIM Boikhutso Mudongo Onkemetse Francis, WCM Thapelo Francis, Mbo Mabedi and Palesa Mooketsi represented the ladies team while the male team included the likes of Candidate Master (CM) Ndawana Mosenya, Moakofhi Nota, Keletshabile Monnaatsheko, CM Thuso Mosutha and Otsile Mapini. Francis is looking ready to make history at the event after maintaining an unbeaten streak before the last four rounds of her competition. New Zealand spoiled the party after beating her 3-1 in round eight. The Botswana women’s team was ranked 87th after the Olympiad, while Botswana men’s team debutants Mosutha and Mapini earned themselves Candidate Master titles. 

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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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