31 MAY 2009 General News Gaborone, Botswana

Makwala and Montsho steal the spotlight in Gaborone

Botswana’s Issac Makwala (r) and Amantle Montsho in Gaborone (Mark Ouma)Botswana’s Issac Makwala (r) and Amantle Montsho in Gaborone (Mark Ouma) © Copyright

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho turned in the best performances at the Southern Africa regional Championships staged in Gaborone Botswana over the weekend (29-30-May).

The meeting formed part of the region’s build up to the IAAF World Championships in August. Several former junior athletes emerged victorious in their debut at this contest for senior athletes.

Makwala’s emergence continues

Makwala proved yet again that he is perhaps Africa’s best revelation in the sprints this year. He ran conservatively over the first 250m, before surging to victory on the home straight in the most keenly contested event of the meet. He clocked 45.79.

Makwala’s compatriot Sakarea Kamberuka (46.27) was runner up ahead of South Africans Sibusiso Sishi (46.29), Ofentse Mogawane (46.39), Jacob Ramokoka (46.43), Botswana’s Pako Seribe (46.48), Zimbabweans David Tinago (47.64) and Themba Ncube (48.17).

Makwala’s time is inside the World Championships B qualifying standard. He achieved a lifetime best of 45.56 in Bamako, Mali, last month. “I really hoped to achieve the A standard qualifier (45.55) here on home soil. Now I will try again in Europe later this month,” says Makwala. He first captured the limelight when he won the 400m at Africa’s only IAAF Grand Prix in Dakar, Senegal, on 18 April.

Montsho overcoming nerves

As was the case in Dakar, Amantle Montsho (51.88) prevailed in the women’s 400m, ensuring Botswana’s dominance of the 400m across the gender. She went on to comfortably win the 200m (24.01) before opening up. “My aim is to run 48 seconds. I was too nervous at the (Beijing) Olympics where I planned to achieve this. This time I am better prepared,” says Montsho.

She has a 49.83 performance to her credit following her African Championships victory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last year. That makes her Africa’s second-fastest 400m runner of all time after the legendary Falliat Ogunkoya (49.10). Montsho and Allyson Felix were jointly the fourth fastest athletes in the event last year.

New faces

South African Patience Ntshingila and Zimbabwe’s Tamla Pietersen who are just out of their teens had a measure of success competing internationally as seniors for the first time. Ntshingila pulled the double in long jump (6.37m) and triple jump (12.70m). Pietersen gave Zimbabwe their only gold medal courtesy of her 100m Hurdles victory, following her silver medal effort in the 100m (12.03).

An even younger group of gold medallist at the event were Malawian Milliam Thole (women’s 5000m) and South African Caster Semenya (women’s 800m), both coached by a very delighted Michael Seme, along with men’s 18-year-old long jumper Luvo Manyionga.

Mark Ouma for the IAAF