Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Orapa cycling challenge returns

Scores of cyclists from various cycling clubs across Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe thronged Orapa diamond mining town recently to participate in the annual Orapa Cycling Classic Challenge.

Hosted by Debswana – Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM), the event also attracted hordes of cycling fanatics from Orapa and various villages in the Boteti Sub-District. The event had been put on hold for two consecutive years owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The objective of the annual cycling challenge, which is organized by Orapa Cycling Club in conjunction with Debswana and the Department of Social and Community Development in Letlhakane, is to raise funds to support under privileged members of the community in OLDM’s Zone of Influence.

The Orapa Classic Cycling challenge began in 2006 as a 90 km competitive event but was later transformed into a charity event. The event has been growing in leaps and bounds over the years. This year’s event was held under the theme: “Promoting cycling development amongst the youth.”

Welcoming guests and participants after the cycling event, OLDM General Manager Mogakolodi Maoketsa lauded the sponsors for making the sport challenge a resounding success. He emphasized that the event seeks to cultivate talent and passion for cycling amongst the youth at the same time helping raise funds for the underprivileged.

“The purpose of this event is to promote cycling development among the youth. Our goal as Debswana- Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines is to make Orapa a great place to live and work and consequently make life brilliant. We are encouraging other clubs to host major events in Orapa to achieve this dream,” he said.

He said OLDM has other major upcoming sporting activities in its calendar such as the Orapa Junior Tennis Tournament, The Annual General Manager’s Charity Walk and Golf Tournament.

Giving a keynote address the Chief Executive Officer of Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) who was also the guest cyclist Mmetla Masire commended Debswana for promoting cycling among the youth. He also emphasized that the theme “Promoting cycling development amongst the youth” resonates well with the event as it is geared towards ensuring that the youth are groomed into the cycling sport at an early age to ensure that they develop into elite athletes.

“One other purpose of this theme is to ensure youth in the Zone of Influence for OLDM are not idle in the streets which might lead to social ills,” Masire said.

“The cycling community thrives on youth development, hence this theme is very paramount to the success of cycling fraternity in this country,” he added.

He further said it is important to note that cycling is a sport that does not easily attract the youth due to its prohibitive costs of equipment. He also said the sport also requires a lot of teamwork for the participants to remain competitive. He showered accolades on Orapa Cycling Club for having found it fit to focus their efforts on the youth.

Proceeds of the previous Orapa Classic challenges have since been utilized on amongst others; poultry business for the needy in Metsiaela settlement near Letlhakane in conjunction with Boteti Sub District Council and purchasing of a photocopier and Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) revision books for Matshumu Primary School.

The race which had 170 cyclists was comprised of 12 categories. Some of the sterling performers included amongst others local athlete Tobokani Mosetlha Masters Males category (50 and above age range) of the 120km race who scooped position 1 getting P3 500 prize money, South African Nolan Hoffman Veterans Males category position 1(36 – 49 age range) in the 120 km race getting P4 000 prize money and another South African Thulasizwe Mxenge Elite Category position 1( 19 – 22 age range) 120 km who got P 8 000 prize money.

Another local athlete Nonofo Maswabi from the Female Elite Category (19 – 22) also proved her mettle against her male counterparts by getting position 1 and walking away with P8 000 prize money. Given Mthembu from Zimbabwe also put his country on the map as he acquired position 1 in the male under 23 category 120 km and got a prize money of P8 000. There were a total of 14 cyclists from South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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