Amantle Montsho hopes to wave Botswana’s flag high at the London Olympics

Amantle Montsho says she has her eyes set on London, where she hopes to become the first athlete from Botswana to win an Olympic medal. The 400 meter specialist has already won world, African and Commonwealth titles, but it’s Olympic gold she craves the most. Montsho, who turns 29 on July 4th, won Botswana’s first world title in thrilling fashion last year in Daegu, South Korea. She held off a fierce challenge from American star Allyson Felix and set a Botswana national record of 49.56 seconds.

Amantle Montsho made her Olympic debut at the 2004 Games in Athens. During the first round heats in the Greek capital, she set a then national record of 53.77 seconds. That time, though, was not fast enough to qualify for the semifinals. At the 2008 Games in Beijing, Montsho reached the final, clocking 51.18 seconds, which placed her last in the field of eight runners.

For the past six years, the muscular Montsho has steadily improved her strength and speed at an international training center in Dakar, Senegal. An Ivorian coach at the center, Anthony Koffi, has watched Montsho’s progress and says she has desire to improve and that’s important. As for the importance of a winning a gold medal in London, Amantle Montsho says simply, “it would mean everything to me.”