Amantle shakes off ban effect to qualify for London
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – Former 400m world and Commonwealth Games champion, Amantle Montsho, proved over the weekend that there was no substitute for experience when she secured a spot at this year’s World Championships in London.
With odds heavily against her after a two-year lay-off for taking a banned substance, Montsho quickly banished the bitter memories with a powerful run, crossing the line in 52.01secs in a local track and field competition at the Francistown Sports Complex.
It was only her second competitive race since her return from a lengthy ban for taking a banned stimulant at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where she had just finished fourth.
But at the ripe age of 34, Montsho sent a chilling reminder to her competitors, finishing first ahead of last year’s Olympian, Christine Botlogetswe.
The cut-off time for the women’s 400m is 52.10secs and the deadline is at midnight on July 23. However, Montsho did not want to wait that long and is now in line for a second World Championship medal after winning the competition in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011.
“I am happy and shocked at the same time. I qualified only in my second race since my return. I had forecast running a time of between 53 and 54 secs. I had projected qualifying (for the World Championships) around May,” she said.
While all eyes were on Montsho, world junior 400m champion, Baboloki Thebe, quietly blasted his way to this year’s world leading time, when he clocked 44.89 secs. He beat fellow countryman, Karabo Sibanda’s mark of 45.26 set in January.
“I have not been training well and joined camp two weeks back due to my injury. I think it’s promising moving forward,” Thebe said.
Thebe and Montsho’s coach, Mogomotsi Otsetswe, was over the moon. He said he expected Montsho to qualify between February and March, and that target has been met.
“Amantle has been working really hard at training. My projection was that she was going to qualify between February and March and that has happened,” Otsetswe said.
“As for Thebe, I spent time resting him so that he recovers from his injury and today he showed he is back.”
Thebe is looking forward to erase the agony of a shattered dream at the Rio Olympics after injury brought his participation to a premature end.
He had moved to the semi-finals but a recurring injury forced him to pull out when he looked a bright medal prospect.
He went into the Rio Games with the fourth best time, and was the reigning junior champion.