The Botswana Games, which end in Gaborone tomorrow, have seen the rise of a new sprint star, Zebrone ‘The Beast’ Machara, a rough diamond awaiting polishing.
Machara arrived in Gaborone from Francistown a week ago, as your boy next door, but that has drastically changed after he scooped three gold medals. Machara brought the stadium to its feet as he pushed himself to a gold medal in the 200m men’s final with a time of 22.22. On Tuesday, he once again, performed wonders when he claimed the 100m gold in 10.79. As if that was not enough, Machara powered the Francistown 4x100m relay to gold.
He is a brave young man who overcame obstacles that could have crushed his athletics dream.
He was disqualified from the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) 100m national finals at the Francistown Sports Complex early this year.
To add salt to the injury, the following day he failed to complete the 200m final due to a muscle pull. The two incidents could have severely dented any 18-year-old’s confidence, but not so with Machara.
His strong character came to the fore during the Botswana Games.
On Wednesday afternoon, Machara strode into the track clad in a Nike attire, in lane three for the 200m final.
He wore a headband that could remind one of American sprinter, Wilbert London III. His confidence was evident from his every pore. And he duly blasted to victory, crossing the finish line in 22.22, to land a third gold for the muscular, rising athlete.
At the finishing line, Machara fell on his back and prayed, thanking God for his feat. Now that his job is done, he is heading back to Francistown with his head held high.
Machara said his achievements were a culmination of hard work, perseverance and dedication.
“I have never won anything especially a gold medal on a big stage. It was an emotional moment for me especially when I recall what happened during BISA finals. It is a big achievement for me,” he told Mmegi Sport.
Machara said he will train harder and prepare for next year’s race, as he targets a spot in the junior national team.
He said his family has played a pivotal role in his life.
A Francistown district official, Patane Tapson said he met Machara when he was still at junior secondary school in 2013. He said the athlete
“He was a strong person but things changed when he came to Francistown Senior Secondary School (FSSS). The coaching system was intense at junior school, but when he got to senior school there was a stand-off between teachers and their employer. That meant there was no coaching at all,” Tapson said.
He said Machara did not have a coach from Form Four until he completed Form Five.
That did not deter Machara who decided to train on his own. Tapson said the athlete came to Gaborone for Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) and BISA competitions, paying for himself and along the way he joined Mater Spei College team.
“This year he qualified for BISA finals in Francistown. The pressure was on him. It was a bad season for him and if he was any other person, he could have quit. The whole stadium knew about Zebrone and they wanted him to bring gold. That led to a false start,” he said.
Tapson said after the race he sat down with the boy and advised him that he should relax because he still has a bright future ahead of him.
He said during preparations for the Botswana Games, Team Francistown engaged Thalosang Molapisi to coach him.
“I am planning to introduce him to the national team coach, Mogomotsi Otsetswe. Our administrators should be on the look out because this does not only relate to Zebrone. We lose a lot of athletes when they finish junior school,” he said.
He said after Form Three, Machara could have been at school with his former running partner, Mooketsi Montshiwa who was taken to Goodhope Secondary School. He felt that Machara could have been far if he had a coach.
Tapson said the mistake that administrators make is to focus on the Under-17, which is a build up to COSSASA/BISA, and then BAA is not able to pick the junior team, which is above 17 years.
He said that is where the gap is and which means when an athlete leaves the Under 17 bracket they are doomed.
Later after the race, Machara was seen chatting with Otsetswe and the BAA president, Thari Mooketsi.