Makwala wins big in SA ahead of Commonwealth Games

Tlotlo Kebinakgabo

Isaac Makwala emer ged first with a time of 31.77s in a 300m race in South Africa while Onkabetse Nkobolo settled for fifth with a time of 33.18s.

The two were taking part in South African Athletix Grand Prix in Pretoria recently. They were part of Botswana’s athletics team that went to the Pretoria High Performance Centre a fortnight ago for further their training in their quest to sharpen their fitness ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The competition was the second and last one for the team since the team went to SA.

Karabo Mothibi was the only Motswana athlete in the men’s 100m. He finished sixth in 10.42s.

In the ladies races, Botswana was only represented in the 200m where Christine Botlogetswe finished second with 23.39s followed by Leungo Matlhaku in the third position with 23.45s. Amantle Montsho finished fourth in 23.53s.

Amongst other athletes who took part in the competition was the World 100m Champion Justin Gatlin of the US. He finished fourth in the 150m race with 15.23s.

Speaking in an interview with this publication, the team coach Justice Dipeba said that they are delighted by the athletes’ performances. “They are coming out nice as their overall performance is pretty much pleasing,” Dipeba said. “This is what we want to see as the games are just around the corner.”

Dipeba is the team coach alongside the Botswana National Sports Commission Coach of the Year, Mogomotsi Otsetswe.

Dipeba, who is also Makwala’s personal coach, said he was impressed by the Tutume-born athlete’s performance. “He had a brilliant run as he was well under control of the race and posted a very good time,” he noted. “This is the first we have him posting such times so early in the season. It gives us confidence that we will do well this year, we just need to be very careful because it can work against us as we have a long season ahead.”

Dipeba noted that the team needs about two races before the Commonwealth Games. “We need to polish their tactics on how to approach their races,” he said. “We just need to correct their race plan.”

The team returned from South Africa last weekend and is expected to leave for Australia of the 17th of this month. The Commonwealth Games are billed for Gold Coast, Australia from the 4th to the 15th of April where Botswana is expected to bring eight medals.