Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SPORTS
Sha'Carri Richardson will test her early-season speed over 200m and Olympic 200m silver medalist Kenny Bednarek will headline a strong men's 100m field as the World Athletics Continental Tour outdoor circuit resumes on Saturday at the Botswana Golden Grand Prix in Gaborone.
The meet will mark the first time that the Continental Tour will make a stop in southern Africa, as athlete preparations for the 2023 World Championships in Budapest later this summer continue.
Richardson is looking to reestablish her prominence on the global sprint scene after a series of recent disappointments, including missing the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and not qualifying for the World Championships last summer.
She opened her 2023 season with a blazing 100m victory at the Miramar Invitational, where she clocked a wind-aided 10.57, the third-fastest all-conditions time in history. Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah ran a 10.54 in 2021, and Florence Griffith-Joyner holds the world record with a 10.49 that she ran in 1988.
Her primary competition figures to come from world 4x100m medalists Kiara Parker and Dezerea Bryant, 2019 NCAA Indoor champion Kayla White, and African 200m champion Gina Bass of Gambia. Richardson's last 200m outside of the U.S. Trials was at the NYC Grand Prix on June 12 last year, which she won in 22.47 seconds. She clocked her PR of 22.00 in Florida in 2020.
University of Texas senior Julien Alfred of St. Lucia holds the current 200m world lead at 21.91, while Abby Steiner (22.23) and Tamari Davis (22.31) posted the top two fastest American times of the year in Miramar.
Bednarek opened his season with a third-place finish in 20.37 in the 200m behind Christian Coleman and Letsile Tebogo of Botswana, who each ran 20.00, in Miramar. He will face world silver medalist Marvin Bracy, who opened with a modest 10.26, and African 100m record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya, who ran a season-best of 10.05 at altitude in Johannesburg on April 19.
The women's 100m will feature a showcase showdown between three Americans. Twanisha Terry, who finished runner-up to Richardson in the 100m in Miramar in 10.83, enters as the favorite over Javianne Oliver and Teahna Daniels. In Miramar, Oliver finished seventh in 11.11 while Daniels ran 11.16 in the semis but did not advance.
World 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica had been set to open her season in Gaborone but had to cancel her participation due to a family emergency. She now plans to open at the second stop on the Continental Tour, the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi, on May 13.
The men's 200m will feature Joseph Fahnbulleh of Liberia, a product of Hopkins (MN) High and a double NCAA champion at Florida, facing off against Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse of Canada and the home-crowd favorite Tebogo.
Other athletes to watch include 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy making his outdoor season debut in the 800m, and three-time Olympic medalist Kirani James of Grenada squaring off against Botswana's Isaac Makwala over 400m.