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Silver bullet gunning for glory

LEADING THE PACK: Amos\' Commonwealth victory over Rudisha
LEADING THE PACK: Amos' Commonwealth victory over Rudisha

*Amos’ medal chances enhanced as Olympics approach

With just 28 days to go before the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, Botswana has assembled a small but exciting group of athletes who could forever change the country’s sporting landscape.

With just one Olympic medal to date, courtesy of 18-year-old Nijel Amos’s 2012 London heroics, the country is hungry for more success at the world’s biggest sporting event.

In the next four weeks, Voice Sport will put a sharp focus on Team BW’s representatives and analyse their chances of a podium finish.

This week, we zoom in on the silver bullet, 800m sensation, Nijel Amos.

Now based in American, nine years have passed since Amos stunned the sporting world as an unknown teenager. The 27-year-old Marobela marvel remains the only Motswana to win an Olympic medal.

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Although he has since gone on to Commonwealth Gold [2014, Glasgow] and is now a three-time African 800m champion, critics argue Amos has not lived-up to his potential.

Billed as the man to end Kenyan legend, David Rudisha’s 800m dominance, niggling injuries at key points in his career have hampered Amos’ dreams of world domination.

Following a dismal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing a disappointing seventh in the heats and failing to reach the semis, Amos has unfinished business at the Games, which propelled him to global stardom all those years ago.

In the absence of two-time defending champion, Rudisha, and reigning World Champion, Donavan Brazier, Amos will fancy his chances.

Brazier failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics on Monday during the fourth day of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, finishing last in the 800-meter men’s final.

The 24-year-old American finished more than four seconds behind his compatriot and eventual winner, Clayton Murphy – who boasts Olympic pedigree himself having won bronze in Rio.

Despite Brazier’s unexpected omission, Amos can still expect stiff competition in Tokyo, with seven of the top eight finishers from the 2019 London World Championships qualifying for the Games.

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31-year-old Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich finished behind Amos in London 2012 to win bronze and could pose a problem for the local boy.

The Kenyan was fifth at the 2016 Olympics with a time of 1:43:55, and has been a constant presence in major competitions.

Another challenge could come in the form of Murphy, who was only 21 when he won a bronze medal for the USA in Rio 2016, ending a 40-year drought for the States.

Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who managed a Season’s Best (SB) of 1:43:47 at the last World Championship, could also pose a threat to Amos’ medal ambitions.

Two-time Olympian, Glody Dube, reckons the challenge can also come in the form of first-time Olympians who have nothing lose.

The Matshelagabedi-born runner opines that in big competitions there are stars who have a reputation to protect, and carefree youngsters – like Amos was in 2012 – who are just happy to be at the finals.

“Unfortunately Amos falls in the former group. He has everything to run for, a legacy to make,” said Dube.

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The former 800m runner and now Athletics Administrator told Voice Sport that at the moment it is difficult to put Amos on a scale and gauge him.

“He’s like a dark horse, nobody, including his opponents, really knows what his plans are. It could be a strategy between him and his coach, but it’s not easy to say what his chances are because he is not competing.”

Dube, who became the first Motswana to make an Olympic final at the 2000 Sydney Games, believes that while established names such as Rotich may light up the Japan National Stadium, new stars will also be born.

“An unknown youngster might turn out to be the toast of these Olympics. Brazier was beaten hands down by some of these youngsters, so anything can happen,” he said.

“Amos, just like all the big names, is under tremendous pressure. His silence is confusing, but it could be that he’s focused and going for something even bigger,” concluded Dube.

In just under a month’s time, the sporting world will find out if he’s right.

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