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Botswana finds golden moments in Gold Coast

Gold Coast, a coastal Australian city famed for its long sandy beaches and is home to several theme parks, this week provided Botswana with two memorable golden moments, writes MQONDISI DUBE

There is no gold mining activity in Gold Coast, but, heading into the final two days of competition at the Commonwealth Games, Botswana had picked two golden moments. There was a silver moment to savour as well.

Tried and tested athletes, Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho, who are entering the twilight of their careers, stamped their authority as they each won two gold medals in the 400m. Baboloki Thebe finished second behind Makwala to complete the first ever Botswana one and two, in a major, global competition.

It is the first time, since Botswana started participating at the Commonwealth Games in 1974 that the country has managed to win more than one gold medal.

It was not until 1986 that the country won its first medal, a bronze.

In 2010, Montsho made history when she became the first athlete to win a gold medal, and that effort was replicated four years later as Nijel Amos triumphed in the 800m.

This year, Botswana has matched its second best haul of three medals, attained in 2002 in Manchester and there is still hope that the 2010 record of four medals can be matched with the men's 4x400m relay tipped to finish on the podium.

Makwala has been in devastating form since 2017 and his win did not come as a surprise as he took full advantage of the absence of world record holder, Wayde van Nierkek of South Africa.

A late bloomer, Makwala won his first global competition in September when he bagged the Diamond League trophy, and was a favourite going to Gold Coast. He lived up to pre-tournament billing, as

he clinched his first Commonwealth Games gold.

Montsho's triumph, was however, unexpected, as she was still easing her way back into action after a two year suspension for taking a banned substance.

The last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow had ended in agony for the 34-year old, as she failed to defend her title, but instead was found guilty of taking a prohibited substance. After a two-year ban, few gave the Maun-born a chance of reviving her career, but she responded with a golden comeback in Australia, to prove that there is no substitute for experience.

While Makwala and Montsho were flying, the mood was deflated when Amos crossed the line behind all the 800m runners in the finals yesterday.

With world record holder and regular irritant, David Rudisha missing in action, Amos was tipped to land gold after a lacklustre two years. However, again he toiled and was clearly out of depth, eventually finishing eighth after setting the pace earlier. This is the third major competition that Amos has disappointed, after poor runs at the 2016 Olympic Games and last year's World Championships. Question will fly as to whether Amos has flattered to deceive after announcing himself to the world with a blistering run in London, almost six years ago. That triumph, which marked the first Olympic medal for Botswana, is fast becoming distant memory and Amos needs a reassuring win to get his confidence back.

The team had a target of eight medals, but that now appears a bridge too far, with five, the more realistic target, if the men and women's relay teams fire.




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