Botswana track and field legend Amantle Montsho is set to resume her stellar running career after being away from the sport for close to two years.
Batswana will be waiting with bated breath for the former world 400m champion. Montsho, whose suspension from athletics ends this month, was suspended after testing positive for a banned substance, methylhexaneamine at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Scotland. The ban from running was devastating to both Montsho and the entire nation.
This week, prolific Scottish coach Adam Latham who is responsible for discovering the likes of Glody Dube and Justice Dipeba among others, expressed delight at Amantle’s return. In an interview with BG Sport, Latham said the Maun native was still very much a star on track and field.
“She is both a self motivated girl a very good runner. She still has a lot to offer, so I warmly welcome her back to make Botswana shine once again because she is simply that good,” he said. Latham who is a coach said he has confidence in Montsho and believes that she can once again reach international championship heights. Latham said his word of encouragement to Amantle is that ‘she must never forget how good she is and simply come back to do her best because she has full support’.
In an exclusive interview with BG Sport this week, Montsho had no illusions about the road that lies ahead. “Although I am happy to be back, the journey is not going to be smooth,” she said, adding that she lost a lot of training time during the past two years. The soft spoken runner who became a household name in recent years revealed that although she trained on her own, it was not the same and up to standard, as she had no one to guide her or test her strength.
The lean and statuesque world class runner further highlighted that she was not even allowed to train with anyone under the wing of both local or international athletics bodies during her controversial ban from the sport. “This affected my training, however I made sure that I keep my passion and continue to train, as I did weight lifts, took long runs and swam to keep going,” she explained. Currently the former middle distance track star said she is looking forward to competing in next year’s World Championships scheduled for London, UK.
Montsho’s wish is to be in top three or at least end up at finals of the international event. One of her biggest disappointments when she was going through the trials and tribulations of her ban was when Italian manager cut her off completely. “He has been my manager since 2008 until 2014. However, I have never heard from him during my worst situation,” she said. However, rejuvenated and redefined Montsho said there was a South African national willing to take over the management part of her storied career.
Despite being nervous and anxious about getting back to the top after two years without any activity, Montsho takes solace in that many other track and field stars have emerged in the sport during her ban. She is a role model to a lot of young girls who are in athletics and she takes pride in talking to some of them about athletics. As a female athlete of many firsts in Botswana athletics, she has made an impact in the girl child as well as drawn a lot of people to athletics. “These upcoming athletes are so good and I believe they will continue to fly Botswana flag higher when some of us have long retired,” she said.
Asked when will she retire from athletics, Montsho said that her plan has always been to retire at the age of 34, meaning she will make her last curtain call at the end of 2017. In other matters, the star has advised other athletes to be conscious of whatever they eat or drink to avoid ending up having taken anything with banned substances that may ruin their careers. “Read and learn about these things, and before buying anything from the pharmacy, consult with your doctor and disclose that you are a sports person. Ask about the energy drinks and painkillers, to avoid taking any medication that could be harmful to your career,” she advised.
She is also grateful for the support she received from her Jamaican athlete friends and the many Batswana that stood by her side during her trying moments. For his part, Secretary General of Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Legojane Kebaitse said that they are ready to welcome one of their best ever athlete with open hands. Kebaitse said the BAA still believes in Montsho. Kebaitse said other international athletes have gone through similar situations and Montsho should overcome these obstacles.
He stated that her situation has been a learning curve, for not only her but to the entire sports body of the country. “A lot of athletes now know that drugs are real and that they should be careful with what they take in. It was the first time we handled a case of such magnitude, hence it has become an eye opener to us and we are fully alert about anti-doping measures,” he explained. One of Montsho’s fans, Gofamodimo Machangane said that, he was relieved that the athlete was making a comeback and he is expecting a gold medal from her next year.