With only 41 days left before the 2015 IAAF World Championships kick off in Beijing, China, local athletes are putting up their hands as contenders. In what has been an amazing week for Botswana athletics, Batswana have been left salivating for more as two of their own set the tracks ablaze at two different international athletics meets. Just four days after Isaac Makwala wrote his name in bright lights to become the fifth fastest 400m sprinter in history, local 800m runner Nijel Amos was not to be left behind as he beat the 800m World record holder, David Rudisha, to move top of the Diamond League standings. The performances mean that bar injuries, the two local lads will go to the Beijing World Championships in top form and will be the athletes to beat at the event.
Speaking in an interview after having witnessed the heroics of the local athletes, Jwaneng Athletics Club coach, Chipa Ntshwarang said the local athletes have improved over the years and predicted that the best is yet to come. “If the two athletes go to the World Championships in the same vein of form they are currently in, they will bring back some medals,” the JAC coach opined. He said though Amos will be facing stiff competition from athletes such as Rudisha, there is a high likelihood that the local lad can always triumph. “With his current form, it will be difficult for competitors to beat Amos. If you look at Rudisha, his best strength is outrunning his competitors within the first 600m of the race and maintaining his pace and lead to the finish. That is his race plan and that is what he did when setting his current World record.
However, as Thursday’s race proved, Nijel has the ability to match Rudisha in the first 600m of the race and unlike Rudisha, he also has a strong sprint to the finish and that will always put him in good stead over his competitors,” Ntshwarang said. Concerning Makwala, the JAC coach said if the reigning African 400m Champion can maintain consistency, he can cause upsets at the World Championships. In what was an iconic moment for the Makwala, the athlete ran a personal best time of 43.72, the fastest time in the 400m event since 2007. The performance means Makwala became the first ever non American athlete to do enter the top five.
Above Makwala in the all time list are the American quartet of Michael Johnson, Harry Reynolds, Quincy Watts and Jeremy Wariner. “The time he ran on Sunday at the Resisprint meet in Switzerland was incredible. Even if he does not match the time but runs sub 45 times in his coming events, he will be an athlete to watch at the World Championships. The best part is that Makwala always seems to pick in form after competing at the same event in Switzerland and he can now go to the Beijing in good vein of form,” Ntshwarang said.
Aside from the two, Ntshwarang said there is a possibility that Botswana can also do well in the 400m relays. If you look at our athletes like Gaone Maotoanong, Zachariah Kamberuka and Onkabetse Nkobolo, they are now running sub 46 seconds and if they keep the consistency and improve, we will be in for something great,” Ntshwarang concluded.