The recent Orange Phikwe Marathon (OPM) in Selebi-Phikwe was declared a success. The OPM organising committee’s spokesperson Kennedy Dudzayi said the marathon was a great improvement from the previous year. Dudzayi said they were able to rectify all the challenges that they experienced in 2016. The Orange Botswana-sponsored marathon has this year seen an improvement in the organisation as well as the number of participants. He said they aim to continue growing the marathon so that it can greatly benefit not only the people of Selebi-Phikwe but the country at large, adding that they are now refocusing their attention in the development of athletes from this marathon. This was evident this year as the 10km race was reserved only for runners under the age of 20 years. Dudzayi said this is meant for easy talent identification. “We will then be adopting two runners from this section who we will then nurture for future development,” he said. This, he said, will help in the production of future elite runners. For a long-time Botswana has been unable to produce long distance runners who challenge for international honours. This has always been blamed on lack of proper nurturing and development of the long distance runners. The Orange Phikwe Marathon initiative of identifying talent and nurturing it has therefore been a good way of empowering young runners.
Meanwhile the orange CEO Dr Patrick Benon also concurred with Dudzayi on using the Orange Phikwe Marathon to impact on the lives of Batswana. Benon said Orange’s sponsorship of the marathon is that they believe in the town of Selebi-Phikwe. He said this is testimony that the Orange Botswana believes in the resuscitation of town. “We believe that this marathon can support different businesses in Phikwe as well as promote tourism in the area,” he said. To further cement Orange’s commitment in the region Benon said they have opened a new store in Selebi-Phikwe. Furthermore, Orange Botswana has identified one primary school in the region which will benefit from P90 000 worth of education kit. Benon said five more primary schools in the area will benefit from the initiative meant to empower students. This year’s Orange Phikwe Marathon has seen an increase in the number of participants and the organisers believe this is a step in the right direction. Dudzayi said they will be working very hard to continue growing this marathon so that it keeps giving back to the community.