Thebe outran Makwala while Botlogetswe edged past Moroko to claim 400m titles
The reigning 400m African Champion Baboloki Thebe and the 2018 African Championships silver medalist Christine Botlogetswe continued to stamp Botswana’s authority in the race during the Gaborone International Meet (GIM).
The GIM was held at the National Stadium in Gaborone this past weekend and it attracted athletes from countries like Nigeria, Namibia and Zambia just to mention a few, they were battling it out with local athletes.
Over the previous years , local athletes like California Molefhe , Amantle Montsho, Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe and Christine Botlogotswe have been dishing blistering performances in the race ultimately convincing many people that Botswana is somehow the home of 400m.
This persisted this past weekend during the GIM with Thebe claiming the men’s 400m in a time of 45.34. Thebe who began the race slow in lane 4 well aware of Makwala’s ability in lane 6, he recovered towards the 200m mark just to power off from his competitors in the last 100m to claim the race title. He however had to dig deeply to win as he was facing tough competition from Onkabetse Nkobolo who finished the race with a season’s best (SB) of 45.59. Makwala finished sixth with a time of 47.00 with the only international athlete in the race Thandaza Zwane finishing seventh with 47.33.
“I am happy with my performance and I am glad that I ran according to my coach’s race plan. We planned that I should begin the race a bit slow and calm so that I can be strong towards the end,” said Thebe in an interview with reporters after his race. He said he is working hand in hand with his coach (Mogomotsi Otsetswe) to ensure that he remains fit for the whole season mostly considering the fact that the IAAF World Championships are going to be held in September/October this year.
Botlogetswe on the other hand emerged victorious in the ladies 400m race with a SB of 52.17 , hot on her heels was Galefele Moroko in a time of 52.58 whereas Tjipekapora Herunga finished third (53.55) and was the first international athlete to finish after the duo. “ Sometimes when you start 400m you forget the race plan so I just run my normal race and I am delighted that I managed to win. My main aim is to qualify for the World Championships very soon, I mean this is my third race and I can say that I am progressing very well,” Botlogetswe told reporters after her race. She intends to run a sub 50 seconds this year.
Meanwhile local athletes did not prove superior in 400m only as Karabo Mothibi won the men’s 100m in 10.36 beating Mosito Lehata (Lesotho) who finished second (10.41) to the title. Tsaone Sebele claimed the ladies 100m with a time of 11.51 ahead of Nigeria’s Joy Udo-Gabriel who clocked 11.56. Tshwanelo Aabobe won the men’s high jump clearing a 2.16m bar while Tshepiso Masalela won the men’s 800m in 1.50.16.
National team coach Justice Dipeba said he is happy with the national team athletes’ performances. “The idea is to keep them in the season as long as we can because this time around we are going a little bit longer in our season with the World Championships scheduled for September/October but not August as usual,” he said. “ So we do not want them to run fast earlier like they did last year, I mean last year they had to do so because of the Commonwealth Games which were held in April.”
The race organiser Glody Dube said he is happy with the growth of the meet, “ this year we had athletes from as far as Nigeria and our top local athletes were also present, it shows that they have faith in our race.” He said they will continue working hard to ensure that the race turns into a IAAF Diamond League meet soon.