She came quite young, unassuming, and determined. The journey was not easy; she made sacrifices, worked relentlessly, made mistakes, failed repeatedly; yet she pressed on. She had every reason to run, this time not on the tracks but out of it, and out of her calling, but she kept at it and maintained focus. Today she is a track master and an African flag bearer.
Born on July 4, 1983 in Maun, Ngamiland, a poor village in Botswana where female athletes are rarely encouraged, Amantle has become a prominent female sprinter who specializes in the 400 metres.
She has represented her country in several track events and has since maintained a steady and progressive climb to fame. She competed at the 2004 Olympic Games, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the World Championships in 2005 and 2007 without reaching the finals. But that was just her beginning. At the 2006 African Championships she won the silver medal and the following year, she won the gold medal at 2007 All-Africa Games.
A two-time African Championships gold medalist over 400 m, she has also won titles in the event at the 2007 All-Africa Games, the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Making her Botswana’s first ever gold medalist of the games.
She has also competed at the World Championships in Athletics and the IAAF World Indoor Championships, and is the former World Champion over the 400m, winning in a personal best time of 49.56 in Daegu. Which became Botswana’s first world title.
At the All-Africa Games she also finished fifth in the 200 metres. And at the 2006 IAAF World Cup she finished sixth with the African 4×400 metres relay team. A gradual but continuous climb.
The 2008/2009 season wasn’t exactly an interesting season for the young sprinter. In 2008, she ran at the IAAF World Indoor Championships but did not reach the final after a poor showing in the semifinal.
She eventually reached her first world final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but her time of 51.18 left her in last position. Enough to discourage anyone right? But not Amantle, instead, she braced herself and came back the following year.
This time, she ran 49.89 in the semifinals at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics which was enough to make the final round of the 400 m. Again, she ran slower in the final than she did in the semis and finished last as a result. She ended the year with a fifth place finish at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final.
Her perseverance eventually paid off as 2010 held better promises for her. With the year came series of major titles. She launched her outdoor season with her third fastest ever 400 m run, winning the Gabriel Tiacoh meet in a time of 50.35 seconds – about two seconds ahead of her training partner Ndeye Fatou Soumah who was next to finish. To top it up, she won the 400 m at the 2010 African Championships in Athletics with a season’s best run of 50.03 seconds.
Amantle was ranked second overall in the 400 m behind Allyson Felix when she won at the Bislett Games in 2010 Diamond Gold Circuit. She then ran her fastest time of the year at the 2010 Continental Cup where, representing Africa, she beat Debbie Dunn to win the gold medal in 49.89 seconds. The sprinter went on to compete at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where she became Botswana’s first ever gold medalist at the Games by winning the 400 m with a Games record time of 50.10 seconds.
In South Korea, at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics , the African track master narrowly beat Alyson Felix to become Botswana’s first World or Olympic track and field champion.
The 2013 World Champion was totally terrific; an experience the Botswana sprinter might not be able to forget in a hurry. She had a good start and just when she slowed a bit to hit the finish line, she was outsmarted by Ohuruogu who dipped her head forward, leaving Amantle in the second place.
In regret Amantle says; “I think I could have won the Games but I didn’t see her as she came behind my back. Christine is very clever on the track. I think if I put my head on my chest I could have won the race. I have learned something from her. I have to work to improve my finishing. In Glasgow, I don’t think I will relax. I learned a lot last year at the World Championships. I am working harder than last year to defend my title.”
For more than six years now, the exceptional sprinter has steadily improved her strength and speed at an international training center in Dakar, Senegal. Where trains with about 20 other athletes. She insists on remaining in Dakar till she wins the 2016 Commonwealth Championship in Glasgow. Then she would take a bow from athletics and officially return to her first love; basketball.
“I think it’s an advantage for me because when I’m here, I’m not doing anything,” she said. “Here, I am just concentrating on my training. “I’m here to do my business.”
“I am looking forward to Glasgow as I am the Commonwealth record holder and Commonwealth champion, so I would like to defend my title this year.
Beyond enjoying basketball casually, Montsho says she wants to compete for her nation on the basketball court. Even though Botswana has never been represented in basketball at the Olympics, she has dreams of an appearance at the 2020 competition in Tokyo.
“If I retire in two years after Rio 2016, I’m going to basketball as that is my favourite sport.” She says. “I even like it more than athletics. I can’t lie. I have all the medals in all the games in athletics. I only don’t have the medal for the Olympics. I am going to work hard for Rio in 2016. I am working hard now for the Olympic Games. I will take a break and see if I come back in athletics, but I am sure I will go for basketball. I play (basketball) sometimes when I am off season.”
Amantle is on the move redeeming her calling. If you ask me, I would say you should do the same too. Believe me, there is enough room at the top.
© 2014 – 2017, Lovelyn Okafor. All rights reserved.