The return of Botswana 400m princess to the track has sparked excitement within the athletics paradise. KETUMILE RAMATITI concurs with the argument that her return must be celebrated.
Once Botswana’s athletic queen, Amantle Montsho, now 34 years, has returned to the track two years after International Athletics Association Federation (IAAF) suspended her for doping. The 400m runner would be aiming to turn back the clock with a seemingly practical victory at the upcoming National championships, World relays in Bahamas and World champs in London later this year.
The Maun born runner was suspended apparently for consuming a prohibited substance Methlyhexaneamine in 2014 at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. However, when Weekendsport visited the runner in one of her morning training sessions this week, Montsho looked like that timid and vigorous 21 year old girl who was hungry for success in the build up to the 2004 Athens Olympics where she set a 400m national record of 53:77. In training, her energy would leave the greenhorns like Galefele Moroko and Lydia Jele ashamed of themselves, and indeed confirming the return of one of distinguished Botswana athlete.
“I have been doing gym sessions and road work,” said Montsho who has maintained that 2010 physical structure and shape when she clinched a number of major title. Her passion and discipline to continue training even at a time when dogs were barking at her, is a potent that could ensure that she feeds the doubting thomases who have already drafted her obituary a humble pie.
“She is a very disciplined athlete and we are happy for her return. If you look at how she performs in training there is no difference between her and those who have been around,” said Montsho’s coach, Mogomotsi Otsetswe. Other athletics coaches who spoke to this publication also echoed her discipline and believe that it will be an X-factor in her return to the track.
“Her discipline is the only factor that differentiates her from the rest and I believe she hasn’t regressed much because she is so committed to the sport,” Coach Chilume Ntshwarang added. The golden girl as the athlete was fondly called at the height of her career in 2010, is not rushing for any medal thus far, but with her mentality as seen on Thursday morning, Montsho will walk away with a medal in the upcoming national championships where she has focused her energy.
“My eyes are primarily set for the national championships,” said the typically shy but hardworking Montsho. Before her forced hibernation by the athletics authorities, Montsho’s had an illustrious athletic career with her all time personal best of 49:33 in the world championships.
This time around with the same event on the line the athlete is not brave enough to challenge for a medal, but other competitors have all the reasons to worry as she is aiming to remove all the negativity that surrounds her. The athlete who revealed that she will resign after this athletic season as age is not on her side, has a point to prove to the world, and the World relays and World Champs present that opportunity to further embed her name on the hearts of many.
With age not on her side and many saying a medal is an impracticable dream for the runner, Montsho agrees; “Batswana shouldn’t expect anything much from me, I’m just gaining my fitness.” However, with age comes experience and it is expected to be rubbed to other curbing athletes. “Everyone want to record a better time compared to that of Montsho hence the competition is now high in the team,” Otsetswe said.
The 34 year old will be looking to ride on the same lane used by among others, 40 year old Kim Collins who competed at last year’s Olympics. Another coach, Oabona Theetso, is of the view that this return will boost the development of a girl child. “It is a major boost for the 400m ladies team, we need her experience to motivate them since she was their mentor.
They would all want to prove their mettle against her especially in the national championships where everyone would be watching.” Perhaps Theetso is right, as the young athletes were all in smiles when doing drills with the former World Champion.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
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