EDITOR’S CHOICE: CATEGORY — Sports
In 2010, no one paid attention when a gangly 16-year-old boy first crossed the finish line in the 1 000m race at the Southern African Youth championships. Exactly one year later, the boy stopped everyone in his tracks when he ran a Botswana junior record time of 1:47.28 at the African Junior Athletics championships.
That boy was Nijel Amos, Botswana’s 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Born in Marobela village in North Eastern Botswana in 1994, Amos went to Shangano CJSS and later Tutume McConnell Community College. Fresh out of high school in 2011, Amos improved on his record and finished fifth in the 800m at the World Youth championships. He first tasted glory on the international stage when he set a new championship record of 1:43.79 at the 2012 World Junior championships.
The highlight of his career was during the 2012 London Olympics when he won a silver medal in the men’s 800m: the first ever Olympic medal for his country. At 1:41.73, Amos’ Olympic performance set a new World Junior record. Though he was dogged by injuries in 2013, Amos returned to form in 2014, setting a meet record and world leading time of 1:43.63 at the Prefontaine Classic. He went on to set another meet record and world leading time of 1:42.45 at the Hercules IAAF Diamond League, beating Rudisha for the second time.
Amos once again trumped Rudisha at the 2014 Commonwealth games, winning the 800m gold in 1:45.18. He showed tremendous tactical prowess during the race as he maneuvered out of a box to zoom past Rudisha in the last 50m.
Amos was definitely unstoppable in 2014. He won the Diamond League title in his debut season, a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and another two gold medals at the African Championships in Morocco. He followed the feat with a further two gold medals at the IAAF Continental Cup. Out of 11 main races in 2014, Amos bagged seven gold medals and two silvers. It was a fitting end to a spectacular performance when he was nominated as World Athlete of the Year in 2014. He was also nominated as Botswana Sportsman of the Year in 2012 and 2014. — SPIKE GANETSANG