Thursday, February 22, 2024

Amantle on top of the world

Botswana’s golden girl, Amantle Montsho, is the world’s new 400 metres women’s champion.

The Maun-born athlete beat an elite field of runners, among them the then reigning champion Sanya Richards ÔÇô Ross, her compatriot and America’s 400 m and 200 m champion Allyson Felix as well as the Jamaican duo of Shericka Williams and Novlene Williams ÔÇô Mills.

Amantle, who posted her new personal best time of 49,56 seconds to win the 400 m world championship gold edged out a fiercely competitive Felix to clinch Botswana its first ever world championship medal.

Unlike in the past races where she seemed to lose it all out in the finals, this time around, Amantle, who had led the race heading into the home stretch held her nerve to beat the fast approaching Felix by 0, 03 seconds.

The win by Amantle sees her continuing to write her name in Botswana’s sporting history as the finest athlete to have emerged from the country. Amantle’s win caps a memorable season for her as she is now the reigning World, African and Commonwealth 400 m champion.

Coming into the world championships, all signs were that the 27-year-old will be an athlete to beat after putting consistent and stellar performances that saw her amass an unassailable lead in the diamond league, where she is also the leading contender to win the diamond in her category when the season ends on September 16th.

While by the semi final stages, it had become clear that the final showdown maybe between the duo of Amantle and Felix, as they won their races with ease, no one would have guessed the race would be so, so closely fought between the two.

With both athletes placed in the third and fourth lanes, both were clearly ahead of others early on in the race.

However, when it all seemed like Amantle had pulled away in the straight, Felix made a push for the finish line, only for Amantle to hold on and win one of the closest fought events at this year’s Championships. Commenting on Amantle’s stellar performance, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Shaw Kgathi, praised the athlete for being a ‘great ambassador for the country’.

“I hope her performances and achievements will change the mentality in our government that sport is for leisure only. Her achievements can save the country millions of pula in advertising because every time she wins and the country’s flag goes up, people get curious to know Botswana,” Kgathi said in an interview.

He added that with the win coming on the eve of the All Africa Games, it will give other local athletes an impetus to perform while also making the country and its athletes more recognisable at the games.

For his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), Tuelo Serufho, said Amantle’s win will inspire local athletes to do more ‘as they realise that even they can achieve what she has achieved’.

“Her win was historic in that it was the first by a Motswana athlete and it also set a new National record in the 400 m event. It is also indicative that our dream of an Olympic medal is not that far off,” Serufho said.

The BNOC CEO said Amantle’s performances are inspirational and are the blocks around which Botswana’s future successes in sport should be built.


Read this week's paper