Road To Sporting Success: Amantle Montsho With TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO
On 29 August 2011, Amantle Montsho pulled a dramatic win over Allyson Felix in Daegu, South Korea to attain Botswana’s first ever gold medal at the IAAF World Championships. That is after she held on to an early lead as Felix tried unsuccessfully to chase her down, an occurrence that saw Montsho finishing first in the women’ 400m final with a time of 49.56 .
This is the athlete who started off as a 200m sprinter and was ultimately converted into a 400m athlete mainly due to long strides. Her first major competition with the national team was in 2003 when she represented the country at the Abuja All- Africa games, she was aged 20 at the time. Due to early career promising performances, Montsho was enrolled with the Olympic Solidarity program which saw her relocating to the West African country of Senegal for training.
Montsho made her maiden Olympic appearance in 2004 even though she did not qualify, she was a wild card entrant. Her major international competition in 2005 was the World Championships in which she failed to impress only to attain her first medal (at a major competition) during the 2006 African Championships, that is after she won a silver medal in 200m with a time of 52.68.
A year later, the Maun born athlete won a gold medal in the women’s 400m at the All- Africa Games before making her second appearance at the Olympics during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. She finished as a finalist in the women’s 400m in Beijing and was recognized as Botswana Sportperson of the Year in 2008. She was also a finalist during the 2009 World Championships.
Montsho established herself as a brand to reckon with in the world of athletics in 2010 when she became the women’s African, Continental Cup and Commonwealth Games 400m champion. A year later, she defeated the on-form Felix to the 2011 IAAF World Championships women 400m gold medal to ensure that Botswana’s national anthem was sung at the podium for the first time at the championships. She however, failed to carry her form to the 2012 London Olympic Games after finishing fourth in the 400m final with a time of 49.75.
She settled for a silver medal in the women’s 400m during the 2013 World Championships before finishing fourth at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games where she was suspended for two years after she tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine. Montsho however made a return in 2016 and represented Botswana a year later during the 2017 World Championships on which she failed to impress in her individual race but was a finalist with the 4x400m relay team.
Montsho nevertheless, amazed many during the 2018 Commonwealth Games when she won a gold medal in the women’s 400m at the age of 34. She was also influential in ensuring that the women’s 4x400m relay team won a bronze medal at the Games. She also made part of the 4x400m that settled for a silver medal during the 2019 African Games.
Now aged 36, Montsho is among the five local athletes that have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics which have since been postponed to next year due to COVID-19.