It was a sight Batswana hoped never to see! Their country’s top medal prospect Nijel Amos tumbling out of the Olympics at the semi-finals.
Leading to the Olympics, the local 800m athlete was deemed one of the top medal prospects for the event and fittingly so. Amos went to this year’s Olympics with a season lead time, making him a medal favourite.
And as he eased out of the 800m heats and into the semi-finals with the quickest qualifying time in the heats, one could only believe that Amos was now back.
All that however seemed to disappear in the clip of a heel as he tumbled down in the last 200m of his semi-final race, taking down with him the medal dreams of an entire Botswana population.
But as the saying goes, even in a dark hour, there is a silver lining and Amos and Botswana’s came in the form of an innocuous trip or nudge on him by another competitor.
According to article 17.2 and 17.2.1 of the World Athletics Technical Rules, “If an athlete is jostled or obstructed during an event so as to impede their progress, then: if the jostling or obstruction is considered unintentional or is caused otherwise than by an athlete, the Referee may, if they are of the opinion that an athlete (or their team) was seriously affected, in accordance with Rule 18.7 of the Competition Rules or Rule 8.4 of the Technical Rules, order that the race (for one, some or all of the athletes) be re-held or allow the affected athlete (or team) to compete in a subsequent round of the event.
Taking cue from this rule, team Botswana officials who believed the athlete had been impeded acted quickly and successfully registered a protest which they won, giving Amos and Batswana a well-deserved shot at an Olympic medal.
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Vice President Oabona Theetso said team Botswana officials managed to act fast to officiate the Amos protest to indeed show he had an obstruction in front of him hence he fell.
“It is indeed true we have protested due to the cause of Amos fall. In the protest we were fined US$100 which is equivalent to P1000.00; however, Botswana won the case and was refunded back the money,” he said.
In addition to this, Amos will partake in the final and Theetso hopes and believes what transpired will motivate him more to make it to the podium.
“Amos has been very focused this year and being the only Olympic medal holder, we had high hopes for him as BAA. We are hopeful he will strike again and just maybe give Botswana a medal,” Theetso highlighted.
On the other hand, athletics analyst and sport journalist Anastacia Sibanda said Amos has really proven his brilliance by finishing the race.
“Amos had surely done his homework and has shown he is smart. He did a good job by finishing the race even though others had long finished. Had he walked away, we as Botswana would not have had a case to report or stand on,” Sibanda explained.
The veteran sports writer also heaped praise on Botswana team officials in Tokyo for ‘being woke’ and acting fast to register a protest.
Now with a passage to the finals granted, Sibanda said she foresees Amos bagging a medal at the 800m final on Tuesday as what he has experienced will now keep him alert.