Gem Diamonds sponsors Challenge

SHARE   |   Sunday, 17 May 2015   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang
Cyclists during the 2014 Kalahari Challenge race Cyclists during the 2014 Kalahari Challenge race

The 10th edition of the Kalahari Challenge is expected to be bigger and better with new sponsors coming on board. Kalahari Challenge race organisers this week announced a three-year sponsorship deal from Gem Diamonds. The mountain biking race organised by Gaborone Cycling Club, which is now called Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge, will be held from the 26 to 28 June 2015.
Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick said they are happy to partner with Kalahari Challenge to help in the development of sport in Botswana. Elphick believes that with their support the race can become one of the most prestigious sporting events in Botswana and ultimately one of the top stage races in Southern Africa. He said they are looking to turn it into a well-known race to attract experienced riders from all across the world. Gem Diamonds owns Ghaghoo diamond mine in the CKGR.
Elphick said they hope to continue their support for the race even after the initial three years. He said they are looking at giving back to the community they are working in through such sponsorships.
Over the years the race has been attracting riders from countries like South Africa and Namibia who competed in the three-day event. This year for the first time Gem Diamonds Challenge will offer a full and lite distance options for participants. According to organisers, the full distance will cover 237km which include 2400m of mountain climbing while the lite option route will be 185km and climb a total of 1300m.
According to the Race Director Seamus O’Neill, the Kalahari Challenge provides a challenging terrain for the bikers to test their ability and skills. He pointed out that the terrain includes the bush veldt single track, up-hills and hard pack track.
O’Neill said he is happy for Gem Diamonds’ sponsorship as it will help to grow the race even further. “We are dedicated to making the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge a positive experience for the riders as well as the local communities,” said O’Neill.
Entries for the race are currently limited to only 300 riders which O’Neill explained is to offer quality competition. However, he said there is a possibility of increasing the number to 500 in future. Even though the price money was has not been announced, organisers anticipate a competitive amount once everything is finalised.
Even though a bigger and better race is expected this year there are fears that the event may be overshadowed by the Toyota 1000 Desert Race which will be taking place the same weekend. O’Neill played this down, saying even though the desert race pulls a huge crowd the two events are totally different and attract different audiences. He is adamant that the race will equally pull the desired crowd despite the clash.
Other sponsors, who came on board for the race, are Stanbic Bank, Spar Botswana and Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO). “We have created the community support programme and through our sponsors we will make real and tangible differences to these communities,” said O’Neill, referring to communities along which the race passes.
Lekgolobotlo has been identified as one of the villages that will benefit from the race with O’Neill saying they will help in the upgrading and expanding the village clinic. This will be done through the help of Stanbic Botswana. The involvement of BTO in the race is seen as an opportunity for the organisation to sell the country’s tourist destinations to incoming riders. BTO has been involved with a number of sporting activities to promote sport tourism in Botswana.

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