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Montsho: From hell and back

Publishing Date : 16 April, 2018


Just a day after Isaac Makwala dominated the 400m men’s race, Botswana’s forgotten golden queen, Amantle Montsho also came crashing into the finishing line to reclaim her glory and deliver Botswana’s second gold at the ongoing Commonwealth Games held at Gold Coast, Australia.

At 34, Montsho ran 400m in 50.15sec, not only a season’s best but the tenth recorded best time of the Commonwealth Games. And in April, when most athletes are still shaking off their yester year rust, it is even difficult to argue a case for Montsho who has just served a 2 year doping suspension.

As the eight runners stepped into their blocks, the Carrara stadium seethed with a combination of tension and sheer glee. The Maun born champion came out of blocks very comfortably but seemed to struggle alone the way to the podium finish, but as the crowning moment presented itself, all Batswana who were watching knew how lucky they were to witness a race that turned out to fulfil their expectations. She was turbo charged from position 4 and loped her way to a respectable time- a time that was good enough to deliver another gold.

Just like Makwala, she failed to deliver a medal at the 2017 World Championship games held in London partly because she was still in the self redemption struggle. But on this fateful day, Montsho reminded the world that there is hope even in hopeless situations. This is the same athlete who has seen it all; from the cusp of glory to the jaws of hell.  At one point in her race career, she was beaten cruelly just fractions of a second at the finishing line. One day 6 years ago, she applied the same tactic on her compatriot to change the colour of the medal; from silver to gold.

The doping scandal 4 years ago might come with a black mark on her otherwise illustrious career, but Montsho’s races are well documented the entire world and she has battled strong characters from all corners of the globe. Sanya Richard Ross, Allison Felix and Dee Dee Trotter together with Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu are some of the world- class names the Botswana queen has put to the sword.

Arriving for the second time on a world stage, Montsho’s contest shaped up as a battle between familiar opponents of Jamaican origin. In a semi final feat, she was beaten again by a Jamaican runner moments before crossing the finishing line, arousing uncomfortable feelings that history might repeat itself.

But thanks to this experience earned in many years of running, Montsho finally becomes the face of Commonwealth Games in the women’s 400m race. The way that she ran in Gold Coast was pretty much better than the London World Championships’ dull moments. In fact she is the reason why rivalry exists between her and the rest of the world. But there was still a sense, as there always is with the final of the women's 400 meters, that this was the focal point of the Commonwealth Games, the moment most likely to produce a feat of superhuman dimensions.



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