‘Beautiful’ win for Botswana

2011-09-03 19:36

When Amantle Montsho left Botswana for Senegal in 2006 her aim was to turn her potential in the sprints to success.

And thanks to support from her government, the Southern African nation this week reaped the rewards for the five years which the 28-year-old spent at the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) High Performance
Centre in Dakar.

Montsho could not immediately say how she would celebrate her feat of winning the first IAAF World Championships gold medal for Botswana in a national record 49.56; suffice it to say “the All Africa Games and the Diamond League are next”.

A slight 0.03 mark separated her and runner-up Felix Alyson of the US in the 400m final on Monday.

“I have been trying without luck, but I’ve worked hard to get here today,” she said in reference to her failed bids in the last three editions.

She finished in the semifinals at Osaka 2007 and was in the final in Berlin two years ago.

“I share this victory with Botswana.

“I hope this medal will inspire the young boys and girls in my country,” she said shortly after her race.

“I have been in athletics since my primary school days and with this win, I got to where I have always dreamt of being – a world champion.”

Montsho credited her perennial rival Felix for pushing her to win the fast-paced final, in which the defending champion
Sanya Richards-Ross finished seventh.

The two Americans could probably have been the Botswana star’s training partners, had Montsho accepted the offer to train in America.

“I am settled in Senegal and I can speak French, but I still miss my family when I am away.

“I go back home when the season closes.”

Botswana sent three athletes to the South Korea event but neither Pako Seribe (men’s 400m) and Kabelo Kgosiemang (male high jump) went beyond the first round in their qualifying events.

Legojane Kebaitse, the secretary-general of the Botswana Athletics Association, sent journalists into stitcheshad journalists chuckling when he said: “We have diamonds. We have beef. “We said we wanted gold.”

Montsho’s history-making moment coincided with her country’s senior national soccer team scoring a maiden qualification for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

But it is Montsho – whose name in Setswana means “beautiful” – who has achieved the most firsts on the sporting front in her country: she won Botswana’s first medal at the Commonwealth Games – a gold in the 2010 edition.

She was also the first Motswana to compete in the Olympics when she lined up at Athens in 2004 and later qualified for Beijing in 2008.

Meanwhile, TIRELO DITSHIPI reports from Gaborone that Montsho was received by President Ian Khama when she arrived home on Thursday.

Montsho later attended a dinner by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, where she was given over R100 000.

Yesterday, she was at a lunch where women achievers were honoured.

Montsho is scheduled to sign autographs at different shopping malls today around Gaborone before leaving for the All
Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, tomorrow. 

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