Montsho: Age ain’t nothing but a number

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Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Few gave the then 35-year-old runner much of a chance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but Amantle Montsho is used to defying the odds and emerging on top.

Her 400m individual gold in Australia and her bronze in the 4x400m relay came four years after she was found guilty of doping at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, leading to a two-year ban from competition.

At the World Championships in London in 2017, when her exile was over, Montsho finished well outside the medal positions in both the 400m and the 4x400m.

Heading into the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast the following year, it looked like her best years were behind her.

But she emerged with two medals – and this coming a whole eight years after she had become Botswana’s first ever Commonwealth gold medallist with a Games record of 50,10s in the 400m in New Delhi, India in 2010.

And now in 2020, when everyone thought the 38-year-old would be retiring, Montsho is defying the odds once more and will run a little longer and a little further.

Montsho had indicated she would hang up her spikes after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. However, the Games have been moved to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic – and Montsho, it seems, will wait until the Olympics are held before calling it a day.

When The Southern Times Sport asked her to reveal what her plans were, Montsho referred this publication to the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA).

BAA president Paphane Botlhale confirmed in an interview that Botswana’s star athlete would defy age and represent her country at least once more.

“She is part of our team that will represent the country at the 2020 Olympic Games … even though the Games have been postponed to next year, they are still referred to as the 2020 Olympic Games,” Botlhale said.

 “She is one of the people that we believe should be given the opportunity to compete at the games before she retires.

“We still believe that she still has a lot to offer especially, if her performance at last year’s African Games is anything to go by. She is an inspiration to upcoming athletes as she gives so much confidence when she is around.”

At the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco, Montsho helped Botswana clinch silver in the 4x400m relay.

Botswana National Olympic Committee CEO Tuelo Serufho also told The Southern Times Sport that Montsho would represent her nation on the track, even at the age of 39.

“When she qualified for the Olympic Games, we were happy because she is one of the key athletes and still has a lot to offer,” said Serufho.

He said the National Olympic Committee was supporting Team Botswana members with facilities and monthly allowances of around US$400 each until the Games were over.

Montsho represented Botswana at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, reaching the final at the latter Games. She was the first woman to represent Botswana at the Olympics.

She has also competed at the World Championships in Athletics and the IAAF World Indoor Championships, and is a former World Champion over the 400m.

A two-time African Championship gold medalist over 400m, she has also won titles in the event at the 2007 All-Africa Games, the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Montsho has broken the Botswana women’s national 400m record at least five times in her career, in addition to setting the African Championships record in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2008 with a time of 49,83s.

 

 

 

 

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