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Gold rush at the gold coast

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Gold rush at the gold coast
THE GOLDEN GENERATION: Amantle Montsho, Lydia Jele and Christine Botlogetswe

The blue, black and white flying high in Australia

Amantle Montsho rolled back the years on Wednesday afternoon to reclaim the 400m Commonwealth crown she first won in New Delhi in 2010.

The 34-year-old superstar clocked an impressive 50.15 seconds, powering away from the rest of the field to win Botswana’s second Gold at the games.

It was a moment of redemption for the former world champion, who only returned to competitive action in 2016 having served a two-year ban after failing a drugs test at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The disgrace of four years ago was replaced with delight as the veteran athlete proved she still has what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

With her teammate Christine Botlogetswe finishing fourth, Montsho’s victory once again underscored Botswana’s competitive edge in the 400m race, especially with the generation that first came to prominence around 2010.

They’ll surely go down as the ‘golden generation’ of athletics in Botswana.

With two gold medals already in the bag, and a strong possibility of two more by Friday (Nijel Amos in the 800m and the men’s 4x400m relay team), the 2018 Commonwealth Games team has set a new record for the country.

The team is in line to beat the four-medal record haul set at the 2010 Games in India, New Delhi – the scene of one of Montsho’s most famous triumphs, where she clinched the country’s first ever Gold medal.

Botswana first competed at the 1974 Christchurch Games in New Zealand where they came back empty handed. No team was sent in 1978, and the 1982 team faired little better than their trailblazing counterparts.

History was made at the 1986 Edinburgh Games, when Flora ‘Babs’ Anderson bagged Botswana’s maiden medal, leaving the Scottish capital with a Bronze won in the women’s singles lawn bowls

Eight years later and boxer France Mabiletsa had a Bronze of his own, finishing third in the 81kg category.

The country had sent a 33-member team to Victoria, Canada, making its debut appearance in both badminton and boxing.

Those gains were however reversed in 1998 as the team came back from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia empty handed.

At the 2002 Games in Manchester, a foundation was set. A small team of 17 athletes was sent and the country finally celebrated three medals.

Gable Garenamotse (long jump) and Lechedzani Luza (boxing) bagged Silver medals while Gilbert Khunwane (boxing) claimed a Bronze medal.

Much was expected of the 2006 team that went to Melbourne-Australia as the bulk of the team was made up of athletes who competed in Manchester.

However, it was not to be as Botswana only managed two medals, another Silver from Garenamotse and Bronze from Mmoloki Nogeng (boxing).

The tide would turn once again in 2010 with the introduction of what would turn-out to be the ‘golden generation’.

Making her second appearance at the games, and this time as the team’s flag bearer, Montsho took advantage of the absence of English 400m Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogo and Jamaican trio Novlene Williams-Mills, Shericka Simpson and Kaliese Spencer to forever carve her name into the history books.

It was an amazing feat that sparked wild celebrations across the nation, a stunning 50.10 smashing the 50.17 second record set by Nigerian Folashe Abugan in 1998.

Montsho exploits inspired a record four medals for the team. Tirafalo Seoko (boxing) won a Silver medal in the bantamweight while both Oteng Oteng (boxing) and Kabelo Kgosiemang (high jump) won Bronze.

After a disappointing performance at Glasgow in 2014, where a 20-year-old Nijel Amos was the country’s saving grace with an 800m Gold medal, the golden generation is back with a vengeance.

Isaac Makwala got the ball rolling with a sensational run on Tuesday afternoon, cruising to the country’s first Gold medal at the Australian Games.

It was a display of dominance by local athletes as Baboloki Thebe, 21, clinched a brilliant Silver medal.

In a conversation with Voice Sport, Makwala revealed there’s a relaxed ambience within Team BW, as they look forward to the 4X400m relays.

The Badman said he hopes the good performance in Australia is a precursor for what’s to come for the rest of the season.

“I’m happy and proud of myself, finally my hard work is paying off and just in time as now I am looking forward to having a good season,” the 31-year-old Tutume native told Voice Sport.

The golden boy together with Thebe, Amos, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Leaname Maotoanong are expected to bag another medal in the 4X400m relays.

The ladies team led by Montsho also stand a chance meaning for the first time the country could incredibly (realistically even) have a medal haul of six, with four being Gold.

With the nation firmly behind them, can this golden generation strike more Gold at the Gold Coast?