Top boxers, athletes descend on Gaborone

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Bakang Mhaladi

Gaborone - It will be a busy weekend for Gaborone, as the city hosts two high-profile sporting events, which have brought together renowned athletes and boxers from across the southern African region and beyond.

The cream of local and regional athletics would be at the National Stadium on Saturday for the annual Gaborone International Meet (GIM).

Draw-cards include Commonwealth Games 400m champion, Isaac Makwala and Zambia's 200m champion, Sydney Siame.

Siame is expected to pit his wits against Botswana's rising star, Karabo Mothibi. Makwala will face his own countryman, Leungo Scotch for the 400m crown.

In the long-distance races, local athletes face stiff competition from runners from traditional powerhouse, Kenya and Ethiopia.

South Africa, Lesotho, Somalia and Zimbabwe are some of the countries expected to send representatives.

The race has been deprived of the presence of 2012 London Olympics silver medalist, Nijel Amos, who could not fly back from his United States in time for the race. Instead, he, will now participate in the Penn Relays in the US.

The GIM has been growing in recent years, starting off as a local event, but was rebranded in 2017 as organizers adopted a more international outlook.

The top-cash prize is US$1,100 for races classified as premium.

While there is top-class athletics action at the National Stadium, across town, the region's boxers will trade leather.

The Zone VI boxing competition started on Tuesday and runs until Sunday.

Botswana, as the hosts, would be looking to take full advantage against their southern African counterparts. Botswana, Angola, The Comoros, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Eswatini and Zambia are participating, while Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are absent.

The Botswana team coach, Lechedzani 'Master' Luza said his boxers were ready for the high-profile tournament, which serves as a qualifier for the Africa championships.

“We have shortage of sparring opponents and we constantly invite clubs in Gaborone to train with the national team,” Luza told the media ahead of the tournament.

“We intend to restore the confidence of Batswana in boxing as a sport, because it has not been doing well in the past tournaments."

Botswana has a rich tradition in boxing, with six out of the 12 Commonwealth Games medals that the country has won, coming through boxers.

 

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