Feel it, it’s here

Portia Mlilo

After months of talk and a buzz of excitement that has swept steadily across the capital since the start of the year, the wait is finally over.

This Saturday, a new era will descend on athletics in Botswana as the First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) Golden Grand Prix takes the National Stadium by storm.

FNBB have pumped out a cool P2 million to sponsor the world event, which is the brainchild of former 800m legend, Glody Dube.

The event suffered a blow last week when star attraction, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 36, announced she was pulling out due to ‘a family emergency’.

In the twilight years of a glittering career that spans over 15 years at the top, the Jamaican superstar is widely considered one of the greatest sprinters of all time.

A three-time Olympic Gold medalist, with an incredible 10 World Championships to her name, Fraser-Pryce’s absence will be sorely felt.

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However, there will be other international titans on show more than capable of picking up the slack, including Kenyan speedster, Ferdinand Omanyala.

The fastest man in Africa, the 27-year-old will run against Botswana’s very own whizzkid, Tebogo Letsile in the 100m in what should be one of the races of the Grand Prix.

The line-up for the big race is bursting with international talent, including: Emmanuel Matadi (Libya), Aaron Brown (Canada), and the American trio of: Marvin Bracy, Kenny Bednarek and Kyree King.

Another legend to look out for will be 2012 Olympic Champion, Kirani James.

The 30-year-old Grenadian will take on his old foe, Isaac Makwala in the 400m, a race that also includes local boys Bayapo Ndori and Leungo Scotch.

Botswana ladies, Tsaone Sebele and Boitshepo Moloi will compete in 100m while Lydia Jele and Winnie Sarefo were announced for the 200m, where they will get to test themselves against one of the best in the world in America’s Sha’carri Richardson.

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Naledi Lopang and Thompang Basele are in the 400m and Oratile Nowe and Kelebogile Bile will compete in the 800m race.

Speaking to Voice Sport, Dube said the organising committee is on the last 100m lap of the race in preparation to ensure they deliver a successful event. Dube revealed athletes started arriving this Tuesday and they are ready to host.

“After months and sleepless nights of preparations, the day has arrived. It is not easy to host such a major world event because there are lots of requirements to meet the standards. This is not only a sporting event but it also promotes sports tourism. Most of the participants will be visiting Botswana for the first time and some will be exploring our tourism destinations. They will spend money here and sports will be contributing to our economic development. The other sectors that we have involved outsourcing their services and products so small and big local businesses will benefit from this event,” said Dube, adding a bumper crowd is expected.

P500 VIP tickets are sold out and P100 tickets are still available at Webtickets outlets across the country and online.

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