Montsho defies all odds

Isaac Pheko
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
STAYING POWER…Amantle is back/  PIC: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/ PRESS PHOTO STAYING POWER…Amantle is back/ PIC: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/ PRESS PHOTO

ATHLETICS

Wins Second Commonwealth gold after two-year ban

Former 400m women’s world champion Amantle Montsho (400m) made arguably the  biggest sports comeback of 2018  thus far when she won gold at the ongoing Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia. 

Montsho’s comeback to the world stage has been low key but well orchestrated by the former champion and  her  team. There  was  never  any  pomp  nor  fanfare. Since  last  year  the  athlete  has  been  working  hard  while  keeping a  low  profile, In 2014, Montsho’s glittering career was hit by a horrific doping scandal, Botswana had not witnessed before, after  the  athletes failed a random doping test during Commonwealth Games in Scotland. 

This past Wednesday, the world-famous runner came full circle and beat the likes of Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria and her compatriot Christine Botlogetswe to become a Commonwealth Champion once again with an impressive 50.15sec. 

Montsho’s personal best in 400m is 49.33 recorded in 2013. At 34 years old, some may argue that Montsho is past her prime, which means the hopes of  winning an Olympic medal maybe farfetched for Botswana’s national treasure. 

After her victory, the Maun native became a symbol of strength, resilience, focus and self-preservation. A lesser athlete would have not had the strength 

 

and courage to mount a high-profile comeback following an international doping scandal the local athlete had to endure. 

Lean, tall and genetically gifted Montsho defied age, a two-year ban and being labelled as an outcast. Generally, it is difficult for famous and successful athletes to survive an international doping scandal. 

The likes of former Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong and American sprinter Marion Jones are casualties of how a cheating scandal can destroy careers. 

Montsho’s victory this past week opened up many possibilities for both herself and the nation. Before the likes of Nijel Amos and Isaac Makwala, Montsho have been the torch bearer and opened up Botswana to the   international sports audience. 

No female athlete has done the same ever since. Given her advanced age, Montsho may never win an Olympic medal but she remains a fierce competitor who still has the desire and drive to compete at international stages. The Samsung Diamond league will be the perfect platform to showcase her talents. However, it will not come as a surprise   if the runner makes it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when she will be around 36. Nevertheless, Montsho is not done at the Commonwealth Games as she will be expected to compete in the 4x400m relay alongside Christine Botlogetswe, Leungo Matlhaku and Galefele Moroko. In a previous interview former 800m national team athlete Glody Dube reckons this will not be the last time, Montsho is seen racing at international arenas.

 “As long as she remains fast, she will be able to compete. Remember the likes of Maria Mutola (800m) of Mozambique went on to race we well into her 40s,” he said. 

Dube who has been team mates with Montsho when she joined the national team compared the runners to controversial American Marion Jones who made a strong comeback soon after the birth of her first child. 

“The problem with athletes is that they want to stay competitive and the do not want to be beaten. Take Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, for example, he wanted to retire while still on top. Montsho has never mentioned retirement even at our club (Sports View runners club).” 

According to Dube, Montsho has handled her two-year ban relatively well.

 

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