The Botswanan capital of Gaborone hosts the Botswana Golden Grand Prix, (one of the two African legs of the 2023 World Athletics Continental Tour Gold) at the National Stadium.
Men’s 100 metres:
The men’s 100 metres line-up features five sprinters with sub 10 second PBs. Last year’s world silver medallist Marvin Bracy won two world indoor medals in the 60 metres (silver in Sopot 2014 and bronze in Belgrade improving his PB to 6.44). The former American Football player improved his 100 metres PB to 9.85 when he finished second at the US Championships in Eugene last June. One month later Bracy won the world silver medal in Eugene in 9.88 behind his compatriot Fred Kerley. Bracy finished in the top two in 15 of his 16 races last year. He started the 2023 season with a fast 38.08 in the 4x100 relay at the Texas Relays.
Letsile Tebogo from Botswana won the gold medal in the 100 metres and the silver medal in the 200 metrs at the World Athletics Under 20 Championships in both Nairobi 2021 and Cali 2022. Tebogo improved his PB to 9.94 at the World Championships in Eugene. One month later Tebogo broke the world under 20 record in the 100m clocking 9.91 at the World Championships in Cali.
Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala is the fastest man in the field with his African record of 9.77 set at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Nairobi in 2021. Last year Omanyala won two major titles at the African Championships in St. Pierre in 9.93 and at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 10.02. This season he won the 60 metres at the World Indoor Tour Gold in Liévin in 6.54 beating Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs and clocked a seasonal best of 10.05 in Johannesburg.
World and Olympic 200 metres silver medallist Kenny Bednarek will step down from this distance to run the 100 metres. Bednarek set PBs of 9.89 in the 100 metres in Eugene in 2021 and 19.68 in the 200 metres when he won the Olympic silver medal behind André De Grasse in Tokyo. Bednerek won the world silver medal in Eugene behind his compatriot Noah Lyles in 19.77m and the Diamond League final in the 200m in Zurich in 19.70 in 2021.
Canada’s world 4x100 champion Aaron Brown will run his second 100 metres race of the season three weeks after clocking a wind-assisted 9.97 in Miramar. Brown reached the 100m final at the World Championships in Eugene placing eighth in 10.07. The Canadian sprinter set a PB of 9.96 in Montverde in 2016.
The line-up also features Emmanuel Matadi, who holds the Liberian record to 9.98 in the 100 metres and a PB of 20.07 in the 200 metres, and Benjamin Richardson from South Africa, triple world under 20 medallist (silver in the 100 metres in Cali 2022, bronze in the 100m and gold in the 4x100 relay in Nairobi 2021).
Men’s 200 metres:
Tebogo is also set to compete in the men’s 200 metres against Olympic champion André De Grasse, Joseph Fahnbulleh from Liberia and Alexander Ogando from Dominican Republic.
Tebogo won the silver medal in the 200 metres in 19.96 at last year’s edition of the World Under 20 Championships in Cali. This year he finished second to Christian Coleman in a very close photo-finish in 20.00 in Miramar.
De Grasse will be running his first 200 metres race this season. The Canadian sprinter won six Olympic medals and four world medals during his career. He won the gold medal in the 200 metres improving his national record to 19.62 and the bronze medal in the 100m in 9.89 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021 and the world gold medal with the 4x100 relay at the World Championships in Eugene 2022. He hopes to bounce back from a difficult 2022 season in which his training was hampered by injury and a bout of covid. This year he anchored the Canadian 4x100 relay to a world-leading time of 37.80 at the Florida Relays in Gainesville and clocked 10.21 at the Tom Jones Invitational. He is now based in Orlando (Florida), where he is coached by John Coghlan.
Fahnbulleh finished fifth in the 200 metres final at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 19.98 and fourth in the World Championships final over this distance in 19.84. The Liberian sprinter won three NCAA titles in the 200 metres in 19.91 in 2021, in the 100m in 10.00 and in the 200m in 19.83. This year Fahnbulleh improved the Liberian record in the 100 metres to 9.98 at the Tom Jones Invitational in Gainesville.
Ogando improved multiple national records during a successful 2022 season. The Dominican Republic sprinter finished fifth in the 200 metres final in 19.93 after improving the national record to 19.91 in the semifinal and won the gold medal in the 4x400 mixed relay at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene.
Aaron Brown will double up in the 100m and 200m. He finished seventh in the 200 metres in 20.18 at the World Championships in Eugene and improved his PB to 19.95 in Lausanne in 2019.
The line-up is completed by Canadian sprinters Jerome Blake and Brendon Rodney, who won the world title in the 4x100 relay in Eugene, and Anthony Pesela from Botswana, who won two world under 20 gold medals in the 400m in a PB of 44.58 and in the 4x400 relay.
Women’s 200 metres:
Sha’Carri Richardson will run her first 200 metres race this season a few weeks after clocking a wind-assisted 10.57 in the 100 metres in Miramar setting the fourth fastest time in all wind conditions. Richardson won the NCAA title in 10.75 in 2019 and set a PB of 10.72 in Miramar in 2021 becoming the seventh fastest sprinter in history and the fourth fastest US American woman of all-time. Richardson set a PB of 22.00 in the 200 metres in Montverde in 2020.
Richardson will face Gina Bass from Gambia, African 100 metres champion and world championships finalist in the 200 metres in Doha 2019, and US Dezerea Bryant, fifth in the 200 metres final in Doha 2019, and Kayla While, 2019 NCAA Indoor champion in the 200 metres.
Five-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce has withdrawn from the meeting citing a family emergency.
Men’s 400 metres:
Kirani James will make his seasonal debut in the men’s 400 metres. The Grenadan 400m star won the silver medal at the World Championships in Eugene completing a set of medals at this event after gold in Daegu 2011 and bronze in Beijing 2015. James won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in London 2012, silver in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and bronze in Tokyo 2021, becoming the first man to complete the full set of medals in the history of the Olympic Games. Last year he won the Diamond League Final in Zurich in 44.26 claiming the Diamond League Trophy for the second time in his career.
James will be joined in the line-up by Isaac Makwala from Botswana, who won the gold medal in the 400 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast 2018 and the bronze medal in the 4x400 relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Makwala holds PBs of 43.72 in the 400m and 19.77 in the 200m.
The new name to watch is Lythe Pillay, who won the world under 20 gold medal in Cali last year and finished second to Olympic champion Wayde Van Niekerk in 44.80 at the South African Championships in Potchefstroom.
The line-up also features Botswanan Bayapo Ndori, who finished sixth in the 400m in the World Championships final in Eugene and set a PB of 44.61 and won the Olympic bronze medal in the 4x400 relay, Leungo Scotch, silver medallist in the 4x400 at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Zambia’s 20-year-old Muzala Samukonga, who won gold medals at the African Championships in St. Pierre in 45.31 and at Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in a PB of 44.66.
Women’s long jump:
Ese Brume from Nigeria leads the women’s long jump line-up. Brume won the Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo 2021, world indoor and outdoor silver, the Commonwealth Games gold medal and holds the African record with 7.17m.
She will take on African champion Marthe Koala from Burkina Faso, who also set a national record in the heptathlon with 6250 points in Goetzis in 2021, and Maryse Luzolo from Germany, who won the world under 20 bronze medal in Eugene 2014 and second to Malaika Mihambo at the National Indoor Championships in Dortmund 2023.
Men’s shot put:
Italian trio formed by Zane Weir, Leonardo Fabbri and Nick Ponzio will make their seasonal outdoor debut in the men’s shot put. Weir won the European indoor gold medal with a national indoor record of 22.06m becoming the second Italian shot putter in history to throw beyond the 22 metres barrier. Weir also placed fifth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021 with 21.41m and sixth at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade with 21.67m, but a serious injury on his second metatarsal in his hand at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava sidelined him from most of the 2022 outdoor season.
Leonardo Fabbri, who trains with his friend Weir under the guidance of Paolo Dal Soglio, won the Italian Indoor title in Ancona last February with 21.60m beating Weir. Fabbri set the second best Italian outdoor performance in history with 21.99m at the Italian Championships in Padua with 21.99m. Weir and Fabbri are currently training in South Africa.
Ponzio had a consistent season in 2022 finishing seventh at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade with 21.30m, ninth at the World Championships in Eugene with 20.81m and fourth at the European Championships in Munich with 20.98m. He threw 12 times over the 21 metres barrier.
The three Italian shot putters will face Kyle Blignaut from South Africa, who placed sixth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Marcus Thomsen from Norway, European under gold medallist in Grosseto 2017, and Scott Lincoln from Great Britain, who won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022.
Men’s 800 metres:
Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich will go head-to-head against his compatriot Abel Kipsang in the men’s 800 metres. Ferguson Rotich won the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo 2021 and the world bronze medal in Doha 2019. Kipsang finished fourth in the 1500m at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in his PB of 3:29.56 and won the world indoor bronze medal in Belgrade in 2022.
The two Kenyan athletes will face Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy and former world indoor bronze medallist Erik Sowinski and Tshepo Tshite from South Africa and world under 20 Ethan Hussey from Great Britain.
Men’s long jump:
US Marquis Dendy headlines the men’s long jump. Dendy won three world indoor medals (gold in Portland 2016 and two bronze medals in Birmingham 2018 and Belgrade 2022) and holds a PB of 8.42m. Dendy won a World indoor Tour Gold competition in Birmingham with 8.28m last February. He will be joined by his compatriot Jarrion Lawson, 2017 world bronze medallist Rushval Samaai and 2022 world indoor finalist Cheswill Johnson from South Africa.