Previews27 Apr 2023

Season steps up a gear as athletes head to Gaborone


Letsile Tebogo and Marvin Bracy in action in Oregon (© AFP / Getty Images)

As the outdoor season ramps up, some of the sport’s leading stars will be looking to make a statement when they compete at the Botswana Golden Grand Prix, this year’s second World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting, in Gaborone on Saturday (29).

Local talent Letsile Tebogo takes on the 100m and 200m against global medallists such as Andre De Grasse and Kenny Bednarek, while Sha’Carri Richardson tests herself over 200m.

Ese Brume and Lorraine Ugen renew their rivalry in the long jump, and Kirani James opens his season in the 400m.

Kirani James at the Grenada Invitational

Kirani James at the Grenada Invitational (© Organisers)

Gaborone hosts the first World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in southern Africa and Botswana’s world U20 100m record-holder Tebogo will hope for a strong performance on home soil.

First up is the 100m, where the 19-year-old – who clocked 9.91 to retain his world U20 title in Cali last year – will race against USA’s Olympic and world 200m medallist Bednarek, Kenya’s African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala and USA's treble NACAC medallist Kyree King.

Tebogo opened his 200m season with a 20.00 run in Florida earlier this month and could get closer to the 19.96 PB he ran when he was narrowly pipped to the world U20 200m title in Cali. Among some strong opposition is Canada’s Olympic champion De Grasse, racing his first 200m of the year, plus the world fourth- and fifth-place finishers: Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh and Dominican Republic’s Alexander Ogando.

The women’s 100m features USA’s 4x100m champion Twanisha Terry, who ran her PB of 10.82 last year and opened this season with a wind-assisted 10.83 in Florida, as she goes against Olympic relay medallists Teahna Daniels and Javianne Oliver.

USA’s Richardson races her first 200m of the season after storming to a wind-assisted 10.57 100m earlier this month. She lines up alongside The Gambia’s African 100m champion Gina Bass and USA’s Dezerea Bryant, Kiara Parker and Kayla White.

Kenya’s world 800m bronze medallist Mary Moraa, who also claimed Commonwealth and Diamond League crowns in 2022, drops down to race the 400m against Jamaica’s Olympic and world finalist Candice McLeod, USA’s Kyra Jefferson, and Botswana’s Naledi Lopang and Thompang Basele. In the men’s 400m, Grenada’s 2012 Olympic champion James races for the first time this year and takes on Botswana’s Olympic finalist Isaac Makwala, South Africa’s world U20 champion Lythe Pillay and Zambia's Commonwealth Games champion Muzala Samukonga.

USA’s world 400m hurdles bronze medallist Trevor Bassitt, who has run a 45.25 PB for the 400m flat this month, contests his speciality against Ireland’s Thomas Barr and African champion Sokwakhana Zazini of South Africa.

Nigeria’s Brume and Great Britain’s Ugen claimed long jump silver and bronze, respectively, at last year’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. They clashed again in the world final in Oregon – where Brume secured silver – and in the Commonwealth Games final in Birmingham – won by Brume – and now they meet again.

Nigeria's Ese Brume

Nigeria's Ese Brume (© Getty Images)

In the men’s event, USA’s 2016 world indoor champion Marquis Dendy takes on his compatriot Jarrion Lawson, the 2017 world silver medallist, plus Commonwealth Games champion LaQuan Nairn of the Bahamas, South Africa’s Ruswahl Samaai and Cheswill Johnson, and Botswana’s Thapelo Monaiwa, who has jumped a PB of 8.12m this season.

The men’s shot put pits Italy’s Zane Weir and Leonardo Fabbri against South Africa’s Kyle Blignaut, while the women’s contest features USA’s NCAA champion Adelaide Aquilla, Felisha Johnson and Rachel Fatherly.

Global medallists will clash in the men’s 800m as Kenya’s Olympic silver medallist Ferguson Rotich races his compatriot Abel Kipsang, who claimed world indoor 1500m bronze last year, plus USA’s 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy. Ethiopia’s Olympic finalist Habitam Alemu opens her season in an 800m race that features South Africa’s African bronze medallist Prudence Sekgodiso.