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Team Botswana inspires Australian boy

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An incredible performance by the Botswana team final track race at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has left an everlasting impression on a local boy, himself dreaming of one day running for gold and glory at the Games.

Australian boy, Kyal Sorensen who is 6 years old and from Nerang on the Gold Coast, was track-side at the main stadium for the thrilling final of the 4X400 metre race, which saw Botswana come from behind to take the gold medal win in spectacular fashion, overtaking the Jamaican and Bahamian teams in the last leg. Cheering on the runners as the passed for each lap of the track, Kyal was jumping at the chance to see world-class runners up close for the first time. “Seeing the runners going so fast was great, they were as fast as cheetahs,” Kyal said when he looked back at photos from the race. “My father made sure we were up close to the athletes and being there to see it was incredible,” he added.

Kyal is an aspiring footballer and runner who has already competed in three races at his school on the Gold Coast, taking home a podium finish in each race including two first-place runs in the 60-metre sprint and a -place finish in his cross-country distance race last year. The performance at this Games by the Botswana athletes has been a consistent crowd favourite, and at no time was this more prominent than during and after the 4X400m relay race. In a display of grace and professionalism, team runners Leaname Maotoanong, Baboloki Thebe, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Isaac Makwala took to the track to share their victory with the spectators, Nkobolo stopping to meet with Kyal and his father Luke for a photograph.

“Meeting the Botswana runner (Nkobolo) is something I will remember forever, and one day I just want to be like them and run just as fast,” Kyal said of his chance meeting. The spectacle of the running events and the competitive flair of the athletes had a significant impact on a lot of the Australian spectators, especially on children like Kyal who said, “when you see the runners go past it just makes you want to be out there on that track and to be winning the race.” Kyal’s father Luke was proud of his son showing such ambition and said, “it’s so great to see those athletes from Botswana and Bahamas and all over the world take such an interest in the kids here.”

Taking photos from the stands to capture the moment, Luke shared the experience with his son and hopes to make a special photo album for him to remember the Games. “These incredible runners from Botswana are some of the fastest in the world and during their great moment of winning the gold medal they also stop to share their spirit and celebration with the youngest fans and spectators, which is something all people in Botswana should be extremely proud of,” said Luke after the event. The Gold Coast father and son shared their gratitude with Luke adding, “my son and I meeting Onkabetse Nkobolo was one of the biggest highlights for us at the 2018 Games and we just want to say thank you to him and his fellow team mates for being so friendly, they will always be true champions to us.”

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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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