Gaborone — The social media was abuzz after Botswana's 400m Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Amantle Montsho froze in front of the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) World Conference delegates.
The moderator of the topic, Tell their story: Leveraging media to advocate for women's sport, award winning television and radio sport broadcaster, Carol Tshabalala, pleaded with the athlete to speak in Setswana, but Montsho seemed to be in a state of shock.
The nation was divided in trying to explain what might have happened to Botswana's decorated star, with others pointing a fingers at IWG for not preparing the athlete for her presentation.
Some commentators are of the view that her strength is on track and public speaking is not part and parcel of her career.
Montsho was in the same panel with Uganda chess player, (Queen of Katwe) Phiona Mutesi Canadian, broadcasting executive, Nancy Lee and Paul Hunt of sport and development platform.
However, sport psychology lecturer at the University of Botswana, Dr Tshepang Tshube said there was nothing wrong with Montsho as she probably had performance anxiety.
He said she could not manage to go through with her presentation given that it was a world-class conference and the stage was quite intimidating even to seasoned speakers.
"I don't agree with individuals who think Amantle was not prepared. I was in the IWG LOC and I can attest that there was more than one person who spent time with her.
The idea was to teach her public speaking skills.
Amantle also attended a media training session conducted by the BNOC Commonwealth Games. In my opinion, we are using a wrong platform to assess Amantle," he said.
Furthermore, Dr Tshube said Montsho was a top athlete and a role model to young male and female athletes and her ability to address an academic conference was a totally different task from racing.
He, however, said sport stakeholders could do more in training her, adding he was confident she would be a better speaker with time.
Moving forward, Dr Tshube suggested that the athlete should identify a mentor to work closely with her.
Also, he added that sport bodies such as, Women and Sport Botswana (WASBO) Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development should have a clear career planning programme for athletes.
The programme, he said should include mentorship, academic support services, media training and other needed skills and support services.
IWG secretary, Game Mothibi said their conversation with Montsho to present at the conference started in 2017.
"Remember, there was a session at Travel Lodge when BNOC held a session in her name in 2017.
She had just presented something and I told her that she needs to keep on doing that in order to get it right," she said
Mothibi said Montho then became very interested to address the just-ended conference.
"I was under the impression she wanted to do this.
I was happy that she showed interest despite the fact that naturally she is a shy person," she said.
Mothibi said they did what they could to prepare for her presentation adding that they got a professional to work with her.
"We need to realise that Montsho is an athlete and very good at that.
She is naturally not a speaker; even if she has to speak at times, we can't expect her to be perfect at it.
We shouldn't judge her on speaking but on athletics.
We are differently gifted and we should appreciate that and be considerate," she said.
Source : BOPA