Spectators at the Senn Foods Botswana National Championships were treated to a spectacular event this past weekend as young athletes blazed through the tracks, leaving seasoned athletes in the gutter.
In an action-packed weekend sporting activity, upcoming track athletes set the track alight with exhilarating performances that had spectators on their feet. With a cash carrot and an Olympic team slot dangled in front of them and with almost all the national team athletes from abroad all thrown in the mix, the stage was set for an action packed event and the athletes never disappointed.
After thrilling performances in the heats, the large number of spectators who thronged the event was treated to an unforgettable afternoon in the finals. The toast of the day has to have been the sprints where the local athletes dished out some performances reminiscent of international meets.
In the more popular 100 and 200 meters events, the star of the show was the unheralded Sehithwa-born Yatea Kambepera. In the fiercely competed 100 meters event, the 21-year-old ran a spirited race, breaking Obakeng Ngwigwa’s four-year old national record of 10.43 seconds in the process. Kambepera clocked 10.36 seconds in the event, shaving off a few seconds of his now competitors time. The youngster beat off fierce competition from Fanuel Kenosi and Mooketsi Magaga, who both clocked 10.69 and 10.71 to come second and third, respectively.
Kambepera’s record breaking feat set the tone for the 200 meters event, where he was to meet Ngwigwa and Kenosi. With his 100 meters record and his 200 meters record now on the line, Ngwigwa was expected to give all to protect his remaining record against Kambepera’s onslaught but that was never to be. When the time came, Ngwigwa had only the malfunctioning time trap timers to thank for as they kept his record unbroken. In what will be a bitter pill to swallow for Kambepera, the usually reliable timing equipment jammed, thus leaving the organizers to rely on the error prone hand timers. The youngster clocked 20.63 seconds in the race, beating off Ngwigwa’s four year national record of 20.70 seconds but Ngwigwa’s record was allowed to stand due to the unreliability of hand timers. Ngwigwa came second in the race, clocking 21.07 seconds while Kenosi came third with a time of 21.10 seconds.
Another spectacle was in the 400 meters men event where the best of local athletes met. With a track field composing of national team’s 400 meters relay team, the stage was set for a tantalizing event. With all eyes on the Jamaican-based Isaac Makwala, it was however another upcoming national team track star, Thapelo Ketlogetswe, who stole the show. After seeing Makwala lead the race, the youngster put in a spurt with less than 10 metres remaining to nick off the race from Makwala.
Ketlogetswe clocked a time of 45.58 seconds to win the race while Makwala and third placed Omphemetse Mokgadi clocked 45.79 seconds and 46.36 seconds, respectively.
The result means Ketlogetswe now qualifies for the Olympics with a B standard time. In the women’s 100 meters category, it was an all Jwaneng Athletics Club affair as their trio of Joy Mphatho, Tsaone Sebele and Gosego Mpeo clinched the race, clocking 12.11 seconds, 12.23 seconds and 12.15 seconds, respectively, to clinch the race.
Lydia Mashila, however, spoiled the Jwaneng party in the women’s 200 meters race as she beat off the Jwaneng trio’s challenge to win the race in 24.35 seconds.
Mphatho and Sebele came second and third, respectively, clocking 24.72 seconds and 25.36 seconds in succession. Mashila also won the women’s 400 meters event, clocking 53.30 seconds while Christina Botlogetswe (54.58 secs) and Goitseone Seleke (55.11 secs) came second and third, respectively.