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Glory and goodbyes at GIM

After two years away, the Gaborone International Meet (GIM) proved well worth the wait.

On a day of exciting new beginnings and a fond farewell to an old favourite, it was 18-yearold Tebogo Letsile who stole the show.

The sprint sensation raced his way into the history books, becoming the first Motswana to run the 100m in less than 10 seconds.

In clocking 9.96s, the teenager is now the fastest U/20 athlete the world has ever seen, breaking an eight-year record set by the American, Trayvon Bromell.

A year after setting his then record, Bromell went on to claim bronze at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing – many tip Letsile’s star to burn even brighter.

Not to be outdone, Namibia’s own teenage prodigy, Christine Mboma, 18, set a world-lead time in the 200m with 21.87 seconds. Less than an hour earlier, the 2020 Tokyo silver medallist stormed to victory in the 100m, her time of 10.97 a new African U/20 record.

Securing her own piece of history, Mboma became the first female U20 athlete to run the 100m in under 11 seconds and the 200m in sub 22s on the same day.

While the next generation shone, their careers just starting and futures burning bright with possibility, the fans who packed into the National Stadium got the chance to say goodbye to a local legend whose race is almost run.

Appearing on home soil in a competitive event for perhaps the last time, Botswana’s ‘solo runner’, Isaac Makwala, turned back the clock to finish third in the 200m, sealing a podium place with a time of 20.41 time.

The 35-year-old Tutume titan is expected to hang up his spikes after the World Championships in Oregon, US in July.

The Bad Man will compete in the Kip Keino Meet in Nairobi, Kenya this Saturday as part of his preparations for the World Champs.

“I have nothing to prove anymore. I am just running to enjoy my race and preparing for my last major event. I have done my part and glad that I have inspired many athletes not only locally but across the world. Botswana athletes are talented and athletics is the future. Thank you, Batswana, for the love and continued support,” gushed Makwala, who moved many in the stadium to tears during his lap of honour.

Meanwhile, the brains behind GIM, former 800m runner, Glody Dube, 43, was quick to thank the public for making the event a success.

“I am humbled by the support that we are getting from the spectators, who came in large numbers and it shows that athletics is now a popular sport in our country. We have also had participants from different countries and they had an opportunity to witness them running in their national stadium.

“Everything went according to World Athletics expectations and we are hoping to upgrade to a higher standard [Currently GIM boasts a Continental Tour Bronze status – one of only five events in Africa, and the only one in Southern Africa, to achieve such a classification] as per their requirements. Botswana has talent, which needs to be identified and nurtured well. I am glad records were broken during this year’s event as it shows growth in athletics,” concluded Dube.