Aging star’s dream end fading
Having carried the baton for Botswana athletics for over 16 years, the country’s greatest ever female runner, Amantle Montsho targeted a fairytale ending to her career at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
And then Covid-19 came along and ruined it all.
Rescheduled to August 2021 in light of the deadly pandemic, the Games could prove a year too far for the aging 400m star.
Montsho would be 38 by then and although her heart is willing and her body healthy, 15 months is a long way away.
It is a cruel blow for the Maun born athlete, who had worked incredibly hard to get back into the shape required for Olympic qualification – a feat she managed at a University of Botswana Athletics Club meet back in March.
“My target was an Olympic medal. I had trained very hard to win a medal. This was supposed to be my last competition. I believe I have done my part in sports and it is time to quit!” said Montsho, whose 2011 triumph in Daegu, South Korea, remains Botswana’s only Gold medal at the World Championships – a title she narrowly missed out on retaining two years later in Moscow, piped to the finish line by Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu by less than a hundredth of a second!
Indeed, for the two-time Commonwealth Champion an Olympic medal remains the only thing missing from her resume. Agonisingly, 0.03 seconds was all that stood between Montsho and a Bronze medal at the London 2012 Games.
Suspended for the last Olympics, Tokyo was to be Montsho’s fourth games – a record for a Motswana athlete – and a last shot at Olympic glory.
Speaking to Voice Sport on Tuesday, she ruefully admits that might not be possible.
“I still have to talk to my coach and see if I will compete next year since I have qualified. It has not been easy during lockdown; at least now we have hope since the Minister of Sports has announced resumption of individual sports,” said the frustrated sportswoman, who is famous for keeping her emotions to herself.
With her future once again cast in doubt – she had set her heart on retiring last year only for the Botswana Athletics Association to convince her to continue – it would be a sad, unfitting end to a career that has brought much pride to the country’s sport loving citizens.
However, as her opponents have discovered many times in the past, you write Botswana’s diamond off at your peril!