Fans of local track and field star Nijel Amos maybe be thinking that they suffer from a curious case of déjà vu… following their idol’s repeated slump at world class competitions.
Since the 2016 Rio Olympic games the once promising track star has systematically botched every major event he has entered which left his followers wondering whether he will ever find his speed again. Six years ago, Amos made arguably the greatest sporting moment in the country’s history when he won Olympic silver in 800m with a blistering 1.41.73sec when he finished behind Kenya’s indomitable David Rudisha.
The Rio Olympics saw Amos suffering an embarrassing fall before moving on to the 2017 IAAF World Championships when he dashed the hopes of his fans after finishing outside a podium place. After winning silver in London, the local middle-distance star moved on to the 2014 Glasgow, Scotland Commonwealth Games when he defeated his arch nemesis David Rudisha and won gold.
The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games were Zoro’s next chance to defend his 800m title and reignite his fading track career. However, the question on the lips of his supporters is what happened to the swift and charismatic Zoro. The problem it seems is that the young runner has not stayed and trained in one place for satisfactory amount of time.
For the past six years the celebrity athlete has trained in Botswana, South Africa, Kenya and now USA. Experts in the field have argued that this has diminished the runner’s chances finding his form and consistently finish in podium places. In an interview this week, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Thari Mooketsi said Amos has travelled to different places in the world after the contract he signed with Nike some years ago.
Mooketsi said the contract has seen Amos joining other athletes from all over the world who have benefitted from the same shoe brand contract. However, Mooketsi said his Association is troubled by Amos’ recent slump in performance. “He is not performing well and we wonder if these are just injuries or there are other elements involved.” The BAA president said there was no need for contact with the people that manage and train Amos. “We should be monitoring him a lot closer and we have not done that. It is not a good situation.
Mooketsi said they frequently check on the athlete through telephone and he usually gives positive responses. Quizzed on whether Amos is exposed to highly advanced and experimental performance enhancers in the US, Mooketsi said, there might be a possibility. The BAA president said he is aware that Americans are highly advanced and experimental when it comes to top athletes and their performance on the field.
Mooketsi gave an example of a previous case in which Americans had interest in 400m Queen Amantle Montsho. “After winning her gold medal at the World Championships, Americans did research on Montsho’s hormone genetic makeup to establish what made her perform on the track. They even interviewed her parents and did research on her background to see what made her a top athlete.” Nevertheless, Mooketsi said Amos had signed a contract that might be left with only one year.
In addition, Mooketsi said they will soon be in contact with the athlete to consider possibilities of coming back to Botswana. Commenting on the matter, former 800m national team runner Glody Dube said Amos must be asking himself what he is doing wrong at the moment. Dube said it does not help that the runner has been based in many countries which has come with its own problems. “He must come back home, he has been given the opportunity to travel around the world.
This happens with every athlete if they have opportunities.” Dube questioned why Amos is based in the US as the country is not even good at 800m races as they specialise in sprints.” It is true that Americans are all about performance and there are possibilities they do experiment on athletes.” Dube who has travel and competed around the world said he has been aware of cases where blood is taken from athletes during their peak only for the blood sample to be transfused back into their systems when they take a slump in performance. “Such things exist, it is not only in the US but also Russia. Nijel should come back home. When he was based here he ran 1:41 sec but now he can’t even run 1:45sec. He was younger then, we expected him to gain speed as he grew older. However, we still believe in him.”
Local boxers ready for regional tourney
Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.
The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.
Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.
For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.
He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.
According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.
Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
Branch does it again
Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.
The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.
At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.
Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.
Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.
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