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Makwala gets Grand Prix invite

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Johannesburg bound: Makwala will complete at the Grand Prix series
Isaac Makwala has been invited to compete at the maiden, Athletix Grand Prix Series scheduled for Johannesburg on March 1, 2018.

The 400m sensation will use the series to kickstart his 2018 season.  He last competed in the Diamond League last September, where he emerged triumphant. The Grand Prix series, organised by Athletics South Africa (ASA), would feature three meetings in March, a month before the Commonwealth Games.

Makwala told Mmegi Sport yesterday that he is excited about the opportunity. “I have not been competing because I want to approach this season in a different way. Training has been good and I am ready for the Grand Prix,” he said.

Makwala said his plan is to retain the IAAF Diamond League title and win the Continental Cup. He said he would use the Grand Prix series to gauge his readiness for the Commonwealth Games. Makwala has been invited as an individual, but he would be part of the national team.

Meanwhile, Botswana is sending two 4x400m relay teams, the men and women’s squads, to compete at the series. Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) secretary general, Raymond Phale said the women’s team has a new addition Tlhomphang Basele to replace suspended Lydia Jele. Jele was suspended after testing positive for a banned substance.

The other team members are Leungo Matlhaku, Christine Botlogetswe and Amantle Montsho. The men’s team

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is made up of Makwala, Karabo Sibanda, Baboloki Thebe, Onkabetse Nkobolo, Nijel Amos and Leaname Maotoanong.

Phale said the Botswana team is using the Grand Prix to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. He said the aim is for the Southern African region to win more medals than other regions at the Commonwealth Games.

Some of the top athletes who have confirmed their participation at the ASA Athletix Grand Prix series are South Africans; Akani Simbine and Anaso Jobodwana, and 100m world champion, Justin Gutlin.

Meanwhile, BAA’s second Super Night competition will be held tomorrow at the Lobatse Stadium.

Matlhaku said she wants to set a new personal best (P.B) by end of the season. “I have been working hard off-season and I know that clocking a new P.B is not easy. Competition has been good in the past two BAA competitions. Tomorrow I want to continue where I left off in the 100m and 200m,” she said.

During the Francistown meet, Matlhaku won the 100m race with a time of 11.96 before powering to another victory in the 200m with a time of 26.01.

Matlhaku has not qualified for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but will compete as a member of the 4x400m relay team.



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