MY WORD ON SUNDAY: Go on; retire with pride Amantle!

SHARE   |   Monday, 23 March 2015   |   By Mpho Dibeela
Former World 400m Champion, Amantle Montsho Former World 400m Champion, Amantle Montsho

At least at last a verdict has been rendered. The wait was wearing us down. Amantle Montsho has been banned from athletics for a period of two years for doping. We had anticipated that some form of suspension would be imposed. What we appear not to have been prepared for was a long two-year lay-off. This amounts to telling Amantle to completely forget about competitive athletics. She will in two years be in the class of retirees. Regrettably for her this sad episode happened when she was approaching her retirement age. Even if the period was reduced to what she would be comfortable with my take is that the future she should now focus on is post-competitive sport. What had she been planning all along since the moment of retirement was always approaching? Was she going to be a coach, student, entrepreneur or play basketball? This, by no means should not suggest insensitivity on my part. I believe two years is too stringent and lacks mitigated approach for a first time offender. It is also seemingly expensive to pursue an appeal. Unfortunately for Amantle, the Lords at International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) could have taken a decision to send a strong message by punishing the former World Champion harshly. It is the big stars whose demise is more telling and provides ample education to upcoming talent on what not to do when in the sport! Amantle had become a global athlete. She is a big image of the sport. She is known across the globe much more than Presidents of some countries. That is what big stars become. And having ascended to that high level those that provided her with the stage would be hurt that she let them down. Even as hurt as they would be, I do not accept that they are not forgiving of Amantle. Unlike others who proved to be complete frauds she dominated the event (400m) for years without the support of drugs. Some might say she could have been very smart in taking them. Without any proof to that effect, we know she became a world champion purely out of her might and tact. For that and many other sweet victories that she scored to ensure that our country’s flag shone among nations, we shall forever be grateful. She was not a fraud at her best! This we shall take to heart and respect for eternity. I wish her the best in her appeal. But more importantly it is life after that appeal and after serving the ultimate ban that one would wish she focused more. Is she going to start an athletics academy or anything related? This in my view should be the moment for her to complete strategic plans for – set up a sport academy in Maun and train youngsters in athletics while hiring coaches to train youngsters in other codes like football. As a nation I want to say for many others that we shall be grateful even more if she is to develop many Amantles to take over. Our grassroots development needs people like her. Her achievements are motivating enough for many youngsters to want to follow in her footsteps. I wish she does not continue to be stressed. She should be grateful of the great achievements she has made and carry forward. Wasting more time on negative energy will not improve her situation. Just dust yourself up and focus on things that will improve your life for the better. This country still looks to you to develop its talent cream and lead them to Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. These tournaments shall still remain for you; only this time in a different position.               

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