The champ bows out, talks life after sports
Botswana’s former and only World Athletics Champion, Amantle Victor Nakape known as Amantle Montsho has officially announced her retirement.
38-year-old Maun born 400m legend became the first female athlete from Botswana to qualify for the Olympics in 2004.
She was Botswana’s sole female representative at London in 2012 where she was handed the honour to be the flag bearer.
Montsho has been an ambassador for Botswana at the global stage for the past 15 years.
When she tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine after the 400m final in Glasgow in 2014, Montsho did not see it as a downfall but motivation to make a come back and qualify for the Olympics for the 4th time.
Our reporter Portia Mlilo caught up with this most decorated female athlete to talk about her athletics journey, achievements, and retirement plans.
Q. What inspired you to join athletics?
A. I just joined it for fun because we were all expected to train for athletics during primary sports competitions and the sports master was tasked with selecting the best to represent our school.
Our Coach at Bonata Primary school, Thobogang recognised my talent and nurtured it.
I started running 100 and 200m and at junior school I focused on 400m.
When I finished my form five in 2003, Botswana Athletics Association called me for out of school camps and that was when I started to take running seriously.
I started competing in regional competitions.
In 2006, International Athletics Federation (IAF) called me to train at their high performance-training centre in Dakar, Senegal
Q. Of all the competitions you participated in, which one is the most memorable and why?
A. Winning the World Championships in 2011, at Daeugu, Korea.
It was such an achievement as Batswana started recognizing me.
I remain the first and only former world champ.
Q. What did being chosen to be the flag bearer for the second time in the Olympic Games mean to you?
A. It was an honour.
I knew I was representing Batswana women and I believe that will inspire them to participate in sports.
The country has a few number of female athletes across all sporting codes so it is a motivation to them.
Q. You did not complete your race at Tokyo, what transpired? How did you feel about it?
A. I had an injury.
I thought I had recovered.
When I started the race I felt the pain and I did not want to tear my muscle so I stopped.
I didn’t sleep, my heart was aching.
I had wanted to reach the finals because I knew I was going to win a medal.
Thanks to Batswana for supporting me even when I am down.
Q. What are your future plans?
A. My management team will reveal it with time.
My fans should be on the lookout and I will keep them posted on my Facebook page Amantle Montsho’s Golden Retirement.
Q. You mentioned that you have engaged a new manager, what will be his role?
A. I have known Uncle Duu my entire life.
However, he is not working alone.
He works for a company called House 1957 media, which has a team of youth including women who are passionate about ensuring that the Amantle Montsho brand lives forever.
With this in mind, they are ensuring that my legacy will live on and rest assured that I am in good hands from now on.
Q. How is Botswana Athletics Association of BNSC assisting in your retirement plans?
A. As far as I know, the talks are still ongoing with my management team.
However, my intention is to meet all the individuals and organisations that have contributed to my success for a proper goodbye.
There is no Amantle Montsho without the people.
Q. What has been your greatest achievement on athletics?
A. Owning seven houses is my greatest achievement.
I am also proud to have been an ambassador for my country for the past 15 years competing in international events.
I am very thankful to our government, Botswana National Sport Commission, Botswana Olympic Committee, our association for giving me the necessary support to become a professional athlete.
Q. What have been some of the lowlights in your career?
A. I had injuries so it was tough when I was training.
I remember I took part in one of the competitions in South Africa and couldn’t finish the race.
Another lowlight that made international headlines was the doping case in 2012.
That was the worst experience I have ever had.
In 2015 I was slapped with a two-year ban.
At some point, I thought of quitting.
The psychologist advised me not to and I also believed I could bounce back.
I had so many challenges in this career; I remained focused and did what I love the most.
Q. What other challenges did you face in your career?
A. I had friends in the athletics world from different countries but every time I won competitions they would stop talking to me and the friendship would end.
One of the challenges was that sometimes I would miss flights and arrive late at competitions and therefore miss registration deadline.
Q. How easy or difficult was it to arrive at a decision of quitting athletics?
A. It was easy because I had already made up my mind and I was tired.
Age has also caught up with me, to be honest.
A good dancer knows when to leave the stage.
Q. Would you say you leave your sports career a happy person?
A. I have no regrets.
I have achieved a lot and I am able to take care of my family.
Yes I am happy!
Q. Money and fame can make people lose focus and some athletes quit sport poor, can you say you have invested enough for life after your career?
A. Yes, my rental property amongst other investments continue to sustain me.
However, I still have the energy to do more.
With the projects that I am working on, I hope to build other income streams while empowering my community.
Q. Who is your inspiration?
A. There is a lady who made me take athletics serious, Allyson Felix American professional American track and field athlete.
She is the 2012 Olympic champion, a 3-time World champion and 2-time Olympic silver medalist. She really inspires me.
I always wanted to be a champion like her.
God is also my inspiration because I believe he gave me this talent.
Q. What advice can you give to aspiring athletes?
A. Discipline, determination, dedication and focus.
You must have goals, set targets to achieve them.
You have to follow coach’s instruction.
Growing up, I was very disciplined.
I missed a lot of things that young people think are cool.
I did not drink alcohol or smoke.
It was only two years back when I started to have a glass of wine occasionally, drinking not to get drunk.
You should be careful of what you eat and drink to avoid doping.
You must be disciplined otherwise your career will be cut short.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?
A. I love staying home with my puppies.
SOME OF HER ACHIEVEMENTS
World Athletics Championships Gold Medalist (The first and only medal for BW at the World Championships) 2011, Daeugu, Korea
World Athletics Championships Silver Medalist Moskva, Russia 2013
World Indoor Bronze Medalist (Doha,Qatar 2010)
World Continental Cup Gold Medalist (Split, Croatia 2010)
World Continental Cup 4*400m Silver Medalist (Split, Croatia 2010)
All Africa Games Gold Medalist (Maputo 2010, Algiers 2007)
All Africa Games Silver Medalist (Rabat 2019)
African Championships Gold Medalist (Addis Ababa 2008, Nairobi 2010 & Porto Novo 2012)
African Championships Silver Medalist (Bambous 2006, Porto Novo 2012)
Olympic Games Finalist (London 2012 and Beijing 2008 Olympics)
Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist (New Delhi 2010 & Gold Coast 2018)
Commonwealth Games Bronze Medalist (4*400m relay 2018)
National Record holder of the w 400m outdoor and indoor
Diamond League Champion
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