Disappointing end to Bots World Champs campaign
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – Botswana’s soaring hopes of a second World Championships gold dimmed in the bright lights of London as the team flew back home this week with nothing to show after a promising start to the campaign.
In 2011, Amantle Montsho became the country’s first world champion when she won gold in Daegu, South Korea.
With Nijel Amos powering to a 800m silver medal at the London Olympic Games the following year and bagging the Commonwealth Games in 2014, the country appeared set for certain dominance in athletics.
But Montsho’s 2011 World Championship gold remains isolated after the Botswana team this week touched down at the Sir Seretse Khama airport minus any form of medal.
Isaac Makwala had arrived in London in good form, and so did Amos who hit a purple patch in the Diamond League. Rising star, Baboloki Thebe was another contender in the 400m while veteran, Montsho was looking for a stunning comeback after two years in the wilderness for taking a banned substance.
Makwala had raised the nation’s hopes with brilliant runs in the 400m heats and made it to the finals.
However, a ‘medical condition’ prevented him from taking part in the finals, much to the disappointing of many who felt he had been robbed of a shot at a medal.
Makwala was allowed to run solo in the 200m heats and he qualified for the finals but finished a flattening sixth, producing an anticlimax, which deflated rising expectations among the crowd.
Amos was tipped to grab gold after record holder, David Rudisha announced on the eve of the championships that he was pulling out of the competition amid a tight quad muscle.
The former Commonwealth Games champion had appeared on course when he qualified for the finals but he flattered to deceive with a fifth place finish.
Thebe narrowly missed out on a podium finish in the 400m finals, finishing fourth, to further dampen spirits of a medal.
The men’s 4x400m team failed to even emerge from the heats after a baton exchange gaffe left them seventh and out of contention.
In the women’s 4x400m relay, the Botswana team emerged from the heats but could not sustain the momentum in the finals, which effectively crashed the country’s remaining hope of a medal.
The campaign has come at a cost as Thebe has now been ruled out of the Diamond League finals after suffering an injury while 400m runner, Karabo Sibanda appears to have aggravated his hamstring injury.