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BAA’s cross country series this weekend

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Long distance race fans will be in for a treat this weekend when Lefika Athletics Club hosts the 3rd round of the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) cross country series at Kopong village in the Kweneng district.  

However, one of   the favourites in the 10 km senior men’s category Sesebo Matlapeng has confirmed that he will not be taking part in the race this weekend as he is already preparing for the event’s grand finale to take place in a fortnight.

Matlapeng has already booked a place in the final of the series and has opted not to tire himself with the weekend race. It has been the rivalry between Matlapeng and his nemesis Rapula Diphoko that previously enthralled the hordes of marathon  supporters.

Matlapeng’s absence thus means that Diphoko is likely to have a field day in the competition on Saturday. Moreover, race organiser, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba said that last year’s national cross country champion Godiraone Nthomphe is yet to be confirmed for the race, adding that the runner has not been attending races consistently.

“This   race will be important for all the runners as they will be   preparing themselves for the cross country final which will take place two weeks after the final round of the series scheduled for the northern part of the country next week,” Ramatshaba said.

He added, “To qualify for the finals, the   runners have to compete in two editions of the cross country series. However, any runner can register to compete in the cross country finals but they will not be crowned as national champions if they win that event without previously competing in the series.”

The IAAF has since changed the cross-country rules by reducing the senior men’s category length from 12 to 10 km, according to Ramatshaba. He added that the senior women’s   and junior men’s category remain at 8 km while the junior women’s category is 6km.

The runners to look out for in the women’s category will be Onneile Dintwe of Sports View Club, Tiango Nema of SSKB, Maria Maano (SSKB) and Joyce Tau (Gaborone Runners Club). Ramatshaba has since called on Kopong residents and those from surrounding areas to attend the race, adding that it was not often that such an event is staged in the area.

The start-finish line will be at Macheke ward next to Kopong Junior Secondary School. Entries will be allowed an hour before the race. The event is expected to start at 9am.

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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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