Botswana is set to become the first country in Southern Africa and the third in Africa after Kenya and Morocco to host a World Athletics sanctioned Continental Tour golden event.
This follows the signing of a three-year contract between World Athletics and the Gaborone International Meet (GIM). The agreement sees GIM now elevated to a super elite event to be known as Botswana Golden Grand Prix.
World Athletics has given Botswana the rights to host this prestigious event for the next 3 years (2023 to 2025). The first event under the gold status banner is billed for 29th of April 2023, at the National Stadium.
The elevation marks a remarkable growth for an event which in April earlier this year had been elevated to a bronze event by World Athletics. Event Public Relations Officer (PRO) Calistus Kolantsho says the event now makes it even easier for locals to compete with the best athletes in the world here at home and qualify for major events.
“When our athletes need to qualify for the Olympics, Commonwealth games, Youth games and other major games, they have to go to other countries mostly Europe. In most cases our sport commission hardly has enough finances to send as many athletes as possible to try qualify for these events. Having a qualifying event here at home is an advantage as it allows as many athletes to get a chance at qualifying,” Kolantsho said.
He says the upgrading of the event in a space of a year came after organisers impressed the World Athletics representative who had come to witness it. The representative believed the event organization ‘ticked all the right boxes.’
Kolantsho indicated that, they were being observed on attendance, number of countries who participated, media coverage GIM received, television live broadcasting including time duration of hosting the meet within 2hours.
“From a bronze we were supposed to be awarded with a Silver. However, because of how good the event was organized, they felt they had no choice but to give us the Gold status. It was not an easy task, a lot of work was put in behind the scenes including our facilities being inspected but it was all worth it,” he said.
Kolantsho noted that their dream is to be promoted as their next target is the Diamond League. Which means more work.
“There is nothing nicer as hosting a Diamond League in a Diamond country. As we prepare to host the Continental tour Gold, we will be looking at the League’s requirements to ensure we fulfill them. We have to make sure after three years handing over the report to World Athletics, they should see we mean business and qualify for Diamond League,” an enthusiastic Kolantsho said.
He highlighted that it is high time the continent had its own events allowing athletes to compete in the motherland. “We can have everything here in Africa and ensure Africans benefit from it. This meet is not just for Botswana but Africa as a whole and we hope our fellow Africans will continue to support us,” he concluded.
Botswana Golden Grand Prix is organized by Golden Door Sports Agency, in partnership World Athletics, the Botswana Government through Ministry of Sports,
Youth and Culture Development (MYSC), Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC), Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA).