Botswana’s gold rush at the Gold Coast Commonwealth games starts in earnest today as the country’s top runners take to the track.
Here is how the country’s track blazers will line up today.
Kicking off Botswana’s gold pursuit will be 100m and 200m sprinter Karabo Mothibi. ‘The Navigator,’ as Mothibi is affectionately known, will take to the track at 0715hrs (1515hrs Australian time) today (Sunday) in the men’s 100m heats.
Mothibi will line up against, among others, fellow Africans Henricho Bruintjies of South Africa and Ogho-Oghene Egwero of Nigeria in what will be heat 6 of 9 in the men’s 100m.
The first two in each heat will be guaranteed a place in the semifinals where they will be joined by the next six fastest runners from the heats.
Should he make it past the heats, the local lad will be expected back in the track 2 hours after his race for the semifinals. The men’s 100m semifinals are scheduled to take place at around 0935 hours on Sunday.
Barely forty (40) minutes after Mothibi has left the track, will it be the turn of Botswana’s 400m national record holder Isaac Makwala.
Viewed as a favourite to win the men’s 400m Commonwealth Gold medal in the absence of fierce rival Wayde van Niekerk, Makwala will start his gold pursuit at 0754hrs (1554 hrs Australia time) in heat 2 of 6.
On paper, this should be an easy to win race for the veteran runner. He will come up against a line up of literal unknowns, with neither of his competitors in the heats having run a sub 45 personal best time.
Following behind Makwala in the tracks will be 21 year old Baboloki Thebe, who will be looking to put behind an injury ravaged season.
While Makwala is the favourite, Thebe will be among potential medallists in the race. With a personal best of 44.02secs, the Ramonaka born athlete is one of the fastest 400m runners in the Gold Coast.
Lining up against Thebe in what will be heat 4 of 6 will be Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald. The Jamaican is one of the only two 400m athletes in the Gold Coast to have run a sub44 personal best.
Aside from McDonald, this should be a relatively easy race for Thebe and will be expected to make it through.
Wrapping up Botswana men’s 400m individual participation will be none other than 19 year old sensation Karabo Sibanda, who will compete in heat 6 of 6.
An athlete for big occasions, Sibanda will go into the heat seeking nothing but a passage to the next stage.
While ‘Scara,’ as Sibanda is affectionately called, is yet to hit the heights of 2016 when he made the finals of the 2016 Rio Olympics, he is a favourite to go past the heats and if he hits form, a potential medallist.