The World Championships, which spring to life in Beijing in 10 days, present Nijel Amos with a perfect opportunity to establish his dominance over world record holder, David Rudisha.
Amos has persistently beaten the Kenyan 800m record holder since the London Olympics race, which was dubbed the “greatest 800m race in history”.
But there are doubters particularly in the West who still regard Rudisha as the 800m golden boy despite the losses at the hands of the emerging Amos.
Rudisha has not been at his best since 2012. Defeat to fellow countryman, Ferguson Rotich provided fresh evidence of Rudisha’s unabated slide at the World Championships trials in Kenya a fortnight ago. It was his first loss on home soil as a senior runner. Emboldened Amos now has a perfect platform to plunge the dagger into Rudisha’s floundering career and confirm the Marobela born star as the 800m’s undisputed king.
Amos has dominated six of their seven meetings since 2012. A win for Amos in Beijing, which looks increasingly likely, would give him a clear advantage heading to the Rio Olympics next year.
Amos’ counterpart, Makwala is a medal hopeful in the 400m although the African champion would do well with a consistent run. Often Makwala has flattered to deceive, but still carries enough in his tank to compete against the best in the world after clocking the fifth fastest time in the 400m history last month.
Makwala ran 43:72 in Switzerland to regain the African record after a South African, Wayde van Niekerk had smashed it 24 hours earlier.
Indicative of his see-saw form, Makwala then stuttered to a fourth place finish at the Diamond League race a week later.
The rest of the team going to Beijing has 400m runner, Nkobolo Onkabetse, the 4x400m men’s relay team and high jumper, Kabelo Kgosiemang.
The Botswana Athletics Association public relations officer, Roland Masalila said they expect a medal from Amos while Makwala has been tipped to reach the 400m finals. The relay team is also expected to reach the finals. “Those are the realistic targets we have set ourselves. Preparations have gone well. Makwala is in Germany while his coach, Justice Dipeba will fly out today to join him while Amos is training in South Africa.
The rest of the team is here under coach, (Mogotsi) Otswetse,” Masalila said. The team leaves on Sunday with a send-off ceremony planned for Friday.
The World Championships, which bring together the world’s cream of track and field, run from August 22 to 29.
All conquering Jamaican speedster, Usain Bolt headlines a star-studded cast.