Former athletics coach, Bobby Gaseitsiwe has recalled veteran athletes, Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho's humble beginnings, as he reflects on their triumphs at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Montsho won a second Commonwealth Games gold medal this week, with her first triumph in 2010, while Makwala was winning it for the first time.
Gaseitsiwe recalls it was difficult when he started working with the athletes in the 1990s.
“There were no funds at Botswana Amateur Athletics Association (BAAA), but the executive committee at that time supported my programme of assisting Montsho and other athletes. What was unique about Montsho was her dedication. She did not miss any national team call up.
Montsho will travel by bus from Maun and the following day she will be ready to train,” he said.
Gaseitsiwe said Montsho rarely complained and she was a hard worker. He said BAAA could not even afford to pay athletes allowances. “We had to explain the situation to them. That the bigger picture was to give them a chance to compete outside the country with the best in the world,” he said.
Gaseitsiwe said Montsho was a 100m and 200m runner, from Tshwaragano Community Junior Secondary School in Maun. He said Montsho was an average athlete with good physique, but not speed. Gaseitsiwe said Montsho had to shift to 400m because she did not have the speed for a 100m and 200m runner.
“These were discussions, which we later shared with athletes. As a coach you need to have the quality of a parent and retain the athletes’ trust. I worked with our athletes through respect and mutual understanding,” Gaseitsiwe said.
He said BAAA supported Makwala when
“We have visited their families at their villages. That’s what tells that as a coach, you are interested in your athletes’ careers. I have gone as far as Etsha VI to meet Zacharia Kamberuka’s parents and Galefele Moroko’s homestead in Tsau,” the proud Gaseitsiwe said.
He said Montsho was in the first crop of Out Of School Programme products, which BAAA had started and it was fully supported and funded by the then Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC). The programme had other great athletes such as California Molefe and Obakeng Ngwigwa, amongst others.
Gaseitsiwe said he knew Makwala was going to bag gold in Australia.
“He ran well last year and he just needed to continue with the momentum. Makwala is a strong willed athlete. When he wants something, he goes for it. I never had doubts about Montsho and I am proud of her performance. That is what a champion should do,” he said.
Gaseitsiwe said when Montsho won gold in New Delhi in 2010, she followed it up with the world title in Daegu in 2011.
“Those two are unique in their own right. They are true sportspersons and they have contributed to the success of athletics in the country. They never give up. I believe they can do well in any major event in the next two to three years,” Gaseitsiwe said.