Saturday, December 4, 2021

Beautiful Amantle deserves kiss and hug amid Covid

Just like her career started, Amantle Victor-Nkape, nee Montsho’s career, it seems is destined to finish the same way it started.

No fanfare, no adulations and may be no recognition.

If the just ended Tokyo 2020 Olympics were to be the last hooray for Amantle, it was not the last everyone was hoping for.

Hamstrung by an injury and spotting an elastic plaster on the thigh, Amantle dropped out of the women’s 400m heats. But always a true patriot she is, she sought to give all she could for her country, even if it meant going through a pain barrier.

In fact, having called time in her career about three years ago, Amantle only came back at the request of the powers that be to lead the country’s women athletics team to the Olympics one more time.

While soon to be fellow retiree Isaac Makwala seems likely to enjoy the adoration and material benefits after a brilliant show at his last Olympics, things are likely to be different for Amantle.

Following some stellar performances, pledges have been pouring from the citizenry towards helping Makwala ease into life post sport.

Add to this, his bronze winning heroics with the men’s 4X400m relay team, Makwala, as with fellow relay team members, will also have a house pledged by the Government of Botswana.

This only adds to the already planned building of a mini stadium in Masunga which will be named after him, a fitting tribute for his contribution to Botswana sport.

For Amantle however, it seems she will be a forgotten name as she retires, that is despite her many years of being the country’s golden girl and sports ambassador.

Long before the likes of Makwala and Nijel Amos became household names, the 38-year-old Mabudutsa born athlete was the country’s most recognised sport icon.

Amantle is Botswana’s first ever track world champion and first ever commonwealth games gold medallist, both male and female and the country’s first woman Olympian for that matter. Her successes inspired the country’s track athletes and in particular the female athletes.

Asked if there is anything planned to help the athlete post her career and to thank her for her immense contribution to local sport, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) vice president, Oabona Theetso says he knows of nothing planned.

Theetso agrees that Amantle deserves some token of thank you or recognition, but says BAA cannot do much for her.

“We just hope that she will not be lost to the society without ploughing back the knowledge she amassed over the years as an athlete,” he says. “She can train to be a coach and be assigned to work with female athletes to inspire them,” adds Theetso.

Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho on the other hand says something will be done for her. “We are looking into this and will advise soon,” he says.

Women in Sport Botswana (Wasbo) Public Relations Officer (PRO), Thulaganyo Retshabile says Montsho being a flag bearer is very significant considering how far she has come in sport.

“She is a world champion and strong figure, not only for a girl child but for us as a nation. We are happy with opportunities like this being presented to her as she continues to inspire all of us and serve as a role model to a girl child,” she says.

Despite her immense contribution, it seems the Ministry of Sport (MYSC) is not interested in the retiring athlete but is only interested in rewarding those who just won a bronze in the relays.

Speaking to this publication, Minister Tumiso Rakgare says only BNSC and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) can deal with the issue. All this is despite the government, through his ministry, awarding houses to the men’s 4X400m relay team.

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