The usually quiet and tranquil village of Marobela and, by extension, the entire Tutume sub-district, as well as the whole country, has been gripped with unequalled excitement since the 800 sprinter, Nijel Amos, burst into second spot at the London 2012 Olympics on August 10.
The feat earned the 18-year-old runner a silver medal and a first for Botswana at the Olympics. Evidence abounds that it will be long before the excitement dies unless another feat akin to the Equatorial/Gabon 2010 AFCON Zebras qualification debut is achieved.
After traversing almost the entire country and celebrating the feat with his Team Botswana colleagues, Marobela Village was at the weekend bubbling to the seams of excitement as they received their own sprinting hero, a child born and bred in their little village. In a celebration sponsored by Barclays, it became clear that Nijel had not only earned himself the silver. In addition to the silverware, he has earned himself more than one nickname as prominent Ikalanga gospel singer, Isaac Maleyi, ardoned him with the name Angel.
Tutume kgosi, Jenamo Magapatona, nicknamed Nigel ‘Nxayi’,┬áin a message read on his behalf at the welcoming ceremony. It, therefore, goes without saying that Nijel has now been christened Nijel Angel Nxayi Amos.
Relishing the exploits of his current feat, there is no doubt that a tall order awaits Nijel at the 2016 Greece Olympics. All eyes will be set on him.
The slightly shy Nijel was accompanied by another 800 metre sprinter of Tutume village, Isaac Makwala, at the event officiated over by former president and Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) patron, Sir Ketumile Masire.
The elderly statesman did not mince his words in explaining that Nijel’s win has catapulted Botswana’s image as a sporting nation and that the feat is now a challenge that has to be maintained “like a perennial river that is ever flowing”.
“Nijel’s win comes hardly four years before we complete our National Vision of 2016, which will coincide with our 50 years of independence. I expect that in 2016 we will bring home more than one┬ámedal. A nation is like a river that is ever flowing. It is perennial and that is the challenge we are now faced with as a nation after Nijel’s feat. He has set the bar and it has to be maintained. What impressed most is how Batswana received the news of his winning. This teaches us that we are not tribes but rather a nation. There were no exhibits of jealousy. We all became proud. It was a Motswana who had won and surprised the world,” said Masire, to the applause of the multitudes that graced the august occasion.
Without priding himself, the strides that the government made during his tenure as Botswana’s president from 1980 to 1998, Masire observed that while the country was poor, the leadership nonetheless recognized the importance of sport development, a crusade that was inherited and continued by his successors. He urged all parents to do their best in ensuring that their children do not fail, adding that Nijel’s feat should become an encouragement to his peers and others with different talents to rise to the occasion and beat the best in the world.
The former president warned that those who do not use their talent are reversing the gains that this country has so far made and depriving the nation of further glory akin to Nijel’s excellent run.
Masire gave wise counsel to Nijel and Makwala to resist the temptation of doing things that may eventually kill their sporting endeavours, especially drugs and womanizing. Reading a message from Barclays Bank of Botswana Limited, the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Aupa Monyatsi, Lipalesa Siwawa said for a whole month the nation was gripped with euphoria of excitement arising from Nijel’s Olympic feat.
“Nijel won and lifted the spirits of all Batswana. We had hoped Montsho would┬ábring a medal┬ábut that hope was extinguished. Nijel restored the hope. The medal he got is as good as gold. Batswana had long yearned for this feat,” said Siwawa.
The BOBSA representative, Matshameko, who is among the people who discovered Nijel’s talent, said initially the young runner was not interested in┬áthe sport, opting for footbal instead.
It was only at secondary school level that his running exploits were discovered and nurtured. He appealed to government to hire qualified trainers, like David Latham, who discovered the likes of Glody Dube, to discover and nurture future talent.┬á