Connect with us

Entertainment

Simply the greatest

Published

on

*THE HUMBLE HISTORY MAKER

With her career seemingly drifting into oblivion, stained by a failed drugs-test six years ago, the country’s most decorated athlete produced arguably her greatest comeback earlier this month.

On 14 March, at a low key University of Botswana Athletics Club meet, former 400m World Champion Amantle Montsho qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now postponed until 2021).

Displaying the determination and guts that has defined her time on the track, the 36-year-old defied her aging limbs, clocking 51.22 seconds to smash the required qualifying time of 51.35. In doing so, the Maun native once again carved her name into the history books, becoming the first Motswana to qualify for four Olympics.

Having missed out on a place at the last Games due to suspension, for Montsho it represents redemption of sorts and a final shot at a medal she was .03 of a second away from claiming at London 2012.

The current Commonwealth Champion sat down with Voice Sport’s Portia Mlilo to look back over her eventful career, a career that might contain one more incredible high.

Who inspired you to become a professional athlete?

I joined athletics when I was doing Standard Three in 1992 and by then I was doing it for fun. Our Coach at Bonata Primary School, Thobogang recognized my talent and nurtured it.

I started running 100m and 200m but by 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 it seriously.

I started competing in regional competitions. In 2006, International Athletics Federation (IAF) called me to train at their high performance training center at Dakar in Senegal.

Why did you choose to be a runner?

Athletics is the number one sport in the world followed by football. In football, when you win as a team you share the prize money while in athletics the money is all mine (laughing).

There are also many athletics competitions in a year in different countries and that is why I decided to be a professional runner.

I used to play softball but after one of my teammates got injured I decided to quit and focused on athletics.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I run! (laughing). I wake up, take a shower, eat breakfast and go for training.

Is there any athlete who motivates you to do your best during competitions?

There is a lady who makes me take athletics seriously, the American track and field athlete, Allyson Felix.

She is the 2012 Olympic Champion, a three-time World Champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist. She really inspires me.

I always wanted to be a champion like her!

What do you regard as your most memorable race to date?

The World Championships in Daegu 2011 when I won the Gold medal. When approaching the finishing point I really enjoyed the moment.

It was very competitive and I was fit. I was with Felix at the front and I managed to beat her.

What is your favourite part of being on the track?

I enjoy it when I compete with the best athletes and when the fans cheer us on.

Most Batswana used to follow and support football and were not too bothered about other sports codes.

But I made them like athletics and take it into consideration!

I enjoy most when I approach the finishing line because I go all out from 150m. I also enjoy when there is an athlete who gives me competition.

Massive congratulations on being the first athlete from Botswana to qualify for four Olympic Games. How much does this mean to you?

This really means a lot. It shows I am doing something right. I had so many challenges in this career but I remained focused and do what I love most.

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.

This should be an inspiration to others, especially female athletes, because we go through a lot of challenges. You are expected to be married, have kids – people forget you also have other interests like sports career!

What makes a great athlete?

Discipline, determination, dedication and focus. You must have goals and set targets to achieve them. You have to follow your coach’s instruction.

Growing up, I was very disciplined. I missed out on a lot of things that young people considered ‘cool’.

I did not drink alcohol or smoke. It was only two years back when I could have a glass of wine, drinking not to get drunk.

You should be careful what you eat and drink. You must be disciplined, otherwise your career will be very short!

You mentioned your Gold medal World Championship winning run as your most memorable race. How did it change your life financially, professionally and socially?

My life changed. I was now the country’s diamond, a role model so I had to do things professionally.

I even had to be careful what I shared on social media because now I had a large following, both locally and internationally.

Amantle Montsho

After winning Gold, I had a few endorsements and Nike increased its sponsorship. We have seen a lot of athletes struggling with life after sports so I decided to invest in property with the money I was making from athletics. So far I have six houses in Block 7 Gaborone.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a top athlete in Botswana?

Lack of facilities! Athletics is a big sport and it is high time the country establish a high performance centre.

The other challenge is when you do not deliver as the nation had expected during major competitions.

People will start bashing you and put you under a lot of pressure.

Money and fame often make people lose focus – how do you ensure you are not led into temptation?

Like I said, discipline is important. Refrain from things that will ruin your career. Avoid unnecessary trips and misusing money.

Invest for the future and do not lose focus. In life you should know what you want then it will not be easy for someone to shift your focus.

Just remain humble, respect others and manage your finances well.

How do you relax during the off-season?

I love travelling so I visit my friends in other countries. I also go shopping, especially when I have stress.

I make sure I spend time with my parents and my siblings.

The 2020 Olympics have been postponed until next year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. How is this going to affect your form and what are you going to do to ensure you remain fit?

It is unfortunate that the games are postponed to 2021 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

I am on form and I was ready to compete. Now facilities, stadiums are closed and we do not have access to the track.

The President has also announced social extreme distancing, which is going to make it difficult to do roam work.

I will be indoor training at my house to keep fit – fortunately I have a gym.

Realistically, what was your target for the Tokyo Olympics?

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. I still have to talk to my coach and see if I will compete next year since I have qualified.

We’ve touched on some of the highs of your career. At the other end of the scale, what has been your most disappointing experience as an athlete?

Eish, the doping case! I tested positive for a prohibited substance methylhexaneamine at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

That was the worst experience I have ever had. In 2015 I received a two-year ban.

I couldn’t go home because I was afraid; my father was very angry. I also had to hide from the media and the public.

I will be forever grateful to the government for engaging a psychologist!

I stayed at the hotel for two year and I even changed my number. I couldn’t go to the mall or interact with people.

At some point I thought of quitting. The psychologist advised me not to and I also believed I can bounce back.

After three months I started training on my own because one of the conditions was that the association was not suppose to help me with anything.

I made a great come back and in 2017 I qualified for the World Championships.

How did it happen?

I went to a pharmacy in Gaborone to buy an energy drink. The pharmacist recommended the drink and said it does not have any prohibited substances. I was so depressed.

How do you intend to spend your retirement?

I want to start my own academy. I want to turn one of my houses into an athletics academy.

This is a way of giving back to my country and contributing to athletics development. I was supposed to start athletics coaching course after this year’s Olympics.

And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

Extreme social distancing. I will be locked in my room.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entertainment

Dipping in with Dipsy

Published

on

Dipping in with Dipsy

A legend of the game

When local football fans are asked who the country’s greatest ever footballer is, many will respond without hesitation, Diphetogo ‘Dipsy’ Selolwane.

Certainly, the 42-year-old Gaborone native’s achievements on the footy field are rivaled by precious few.

From playing abroad for five years – in Denmark and America – to starring in South Africa for almost a decade, at club level Dipsy enjoyed a stellar career.

However, it is his exploits with the national team that the striker is best remembered for.

Having captained the Zebras to their maiden (and to date only) AFCON appearance, Dipsy forever carved his name into the annuals of history, coolly rolling home a penalty against Guinea to score Botswana’s first ever goal at the tournament.

Voice Sports Portia Mlilo sat down with the legend for a look back at his footballing career as well as his current endeavors.

Q. When did you start playing football?

As far back as I can remember.

I grew up in a family of football lovers.

My mother, Getrude Selolwane, is known as a big fan of football supporting Gaborone United.

Growing up, GU players would come to our house all the time and I was inspired.

I started playing football on the streets of Extension II in Gaborone with brothers in the hood.

I went to Benthema Primary where I played for the school team, turning out for Arm City, Liverpool and Manchester (Notwane development team) in Chappies Youth League.

I think that is where my talent was recognized.

I was called for U/17 when I was playing at Nanogang Junior School and when I was at Gaborone Senior, I played in 2nd division for Nyangabwe, who are now called UB Hawks.

Q. When did you realise that a career as a footballer was a real possibility?

When I was playing for national U/17.

During international games, we came up against youngsters who were playing professional football and I started to believe that I could also do it.

I was inspired by Aaron Mokoena of South Africa when we played against them at U/23 level.

We had a chat and he told me he was quitting his studies to move to the Netherlands.

Football in Botswana then was more of a pastime than a job.

It was inspiring to hear a youngster almost my age talking of turning professional.

Q. Of all the games you played in, which one brings back the sweetest memories?

All Zebras games I played for the country and when I was playing at SuperSport, a game against Al Ahly (Egyptian team).

I played for my country with pride and I earned my stripes as a Zebra.

I am very proud that I led the team as the captain and we qualified for the AFCON.

That was our biggest achievement as the nation.

Q. And personally, what do you regard as the greatest achievement of your career?

Honour of Meritorious Service to Botswana awarded by the former President Khama.

That’s the best time and best award ever; to be honoured by your President was huge for me!

The other achievement I would say is playing at AFCON, making the country’s maiden appearance and scoring our first ever goal.

That really means a lot to me and my nation.

Q. And on the opposite scale, what are some of the disappointments of your football career?

Quite a few to mention but they have all led me to the greatest moments of my life so I never dwell much on them.

I had applied for Botswana National Sports Council elite scholarship to study at America and also pursue my professional football career.

The process was too long, I was sent from pillar to post.

I was already admitted at the university and what was left was for BNSC to release the funds for my trip and studies.

A day before my departure I was told the right procedure was not followed and I needed to apply again.

I have never been hurt like on that day!

My family had to call an emergency meeting and managed to raise the money for my flight ticket.

I left here with US$200 (P2, 000).

When I got there I found a piece job as a Valet in a hotel and worked for a Nigerian who had a studio at the mall not far from my house trying to make ends meet.

After three months that’s when I was told BNSC had approved my scholarship.

Q. Tell us about the nickname ‘Uturn’, how did it come about?

It came after the turn and strike against South Africa in 1999 at the National Stadium.

I made a quick turn before scoring a wonder goal that marked the start of my impressive career.

It was during COSAFA Cup preliminary game and I was only 21.

I scored a brilliant goal beating the then Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Brian Baloyi.

That was impressive!

Wow, I’ll have to YouTube it!

Q. You mentioned moving to America in 2000 at the age of 22 – what stands out most in your mind about that time?

That football has opened doors for me.

It was very tough at first when I arrived because I did not have a sponsor.

I worked extra hard on the field to market myself to be signed by a professional team.

I had to quit my studies because I could not turn down Denmark, a lifetime opportunity.

I did not want to live with the ‘what if I had not gone’ question hanging over me.

Q. What was the best thing about living in America?

It was an eye opener.

There were lots of opportunities and it made me see life differently.

I would say that is where my professional career started.

They had the best facilities for my career development.

Q. You played in Denmark for a while – what was that like, both on and off the pitch?

I was there for seven months and it was a big learning experience.

The football is not the same as ours.

Q. What do you remember most about your first Zebras call-up – you were only 20 at the time!

I sat on the bench and was grateful not to make an appearance.

I scored on my debut against Lesotho in a friendly match.

Q. Having captained the national team in qualifying for AFCON 2012, you missed the first game through suspension.In the second, you scored the country’s first ever goal at the tournament – a 23rd minute penalty to equalise against Guinea. Stepping up to the spot, what was going through your mind?

The time is now. God had brought the moment to make history.

That was the most difficult and biggest task in my football career.

Q. Fast forward to today, what do you think the Zebras are struggling so much? Where are we going wrong?

The mentality and desire is not the same.

Q. Do you think Amrouche is the right man to take the national team forward?

He is a coach with a huge CV but we have to come to the party to help him move the national team forward.

It is just that the mentality and desire is not the same as ours when we qualified for AFCON.

We were playing for the nation, appearance fees were not even an issue; we were very passionate about our careers.

Q. Toughest opponent you played against?

Mogogi Gabonamong.

He remains the only player that frustrated me to a point where I was given a red card.

He is very intelligent and could read my moves.

My uncle bought me soccer boots in Germany and they didn’t fit me so I gave them to him because we are friends and I always treated him like my younger brother.

When we played against Mogoditshane Fighters, he stepped on my toe to win the ball and I became so angry.

I think it’s because he did that with the boots I gave him!

I shouted at the referee for not protecting me and I was given a red card.

Q. Dipsy today v 21-year-old Dipsy: what’s the difference?

I’m a wiser man now!

Q. It is rumoured you intend to stand as a BFA National Executive Committee additional member in August’s elections. Any truth to this?

(Laughing) What would be wrong if I decided to run in BFA elections?

On a serious note I have not made up my mind but I believe it is high time footballers run football.

Q. Tell us about your football academy and what inspired you to start it?

I want to share my football knowledge and help players live their dreams in football as well as give back to the community.

We also teach them life skills because there is life after football.

They are coached by Vincent Kgaswane.

It is unfortunate that due to Covid-19 pandemic we are not training but we gave them a training programme to follow at their homes.

We will bounce back once WHO give us the green light.

I want it to be a world standard academy and produce professional footballers.

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

I will be just home with my family and my beautiful two daughters.

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Amantle Brown teams up with Gigi lamayne for “sedidi”

Published

on

Amantle Brown teams up with Gigi lamayne for “sedidi”

Defers sophomore album to September

Brownies as she affectionately calls her fans, can brace themselves for Amantle Brown’s sophomore album, which was delayed by the global pandemic, COVID-19.

After a four-year hiatus, Brown’s album will finally drop in September.

Her debut album ‘Sa Pelo,’ which had chart-topping singles such as ‘Moratiwa’, ‘Black Mampatile’ and ‘Sa Pelo’ shot her to the top and won her many awards.

The album, Amantle Brown has confirmed will have 13 tracks.

Voice Entertainment caught up with the petite singer after she released a teaser to the upcoming album, featuring South Africa’s elite rapper Gigi, Lamayne (25) for her latest offering dubbed “Sedidi”.

“I started working on the album as early as last year. When looking for whom to collaborate with, I reached out to Gigi Lamayane and she agreed to set up the meeting. Early this year she came to Botswana for radio interviews and we decided to meet up and record the song,” Amantle Brown said.

“As you can imagine the lockdown has affected a lot of my plans, including the release date of the album. I literally had to go back to the drawing table with the team. There is a lot that goes one behind the scenes before releasing an album. I know all eyes are on me now, first of all it has been a while since I released an album and secondly I have to top the first album, and that is pressure on its own,” Amantle Brown further shared.

Targeting a younger audience with her latest offering, Amantle Brown has switched to a more upbeat tempo.

“We decided to take the dance route. Without completely losing our original touch, we have infused Afro Pop and dance beats into my sound,” she said.

Commenting on her recent controversial post about female hygiene on social media Amantle Brown said, “I was trying to give advice to my ladies about hygiene. The truth of the matter is a lot of us ladies have bad smell down there, so I was trying to share with my followers what has worked for me. I wasn’t expecting it to blow up that way. I have since deleted the video. The backlash was really bad.”

Continue Reading

Sponsored ads

ABSA COVID-19 Fund
Advertisement
Advertisement


Trending