Gaborone — In 2012 one of Botswana's jewels, who was little known in athletics, shocked the globe by becoming the first Motswana to win an Olympic medal.
Nijel Amos was only 18-years-old at the time and his silver medal was celebrated by all and sundry.
A lot of pressure and expectations ensued on the young athlete to deliver another medal for the country in 2016 in Rio, but that was not to be as he was eliminated in the early stages of the competition.
Amos continued to blow hot and cold in different competitions while at the same time plagued by injuries.
The athlete, who is based at the Oregon Track Club in USA, this season got injured three times although he came back stronger from injury.
Reporter Anastacia Sibanda spoke to his coach, Mark Rowland to wrap up his season.
Rowland acknowledged that it was a year of highs and lows, but that Amos displayed tenacity in continuing to bounce back after injuries.
He said Nijel lacked the momentum, which was draining and not ideal, adding that the winter consistency proved important from a coaching perspective, as he gained all he wanted to know from the season after his two excellent back to back races at the end of July in Monaco and London.
"Nijel's strength has improved as he would not have been able to have run 1.42 then 1.43 within two days last season. But there is still much to do," he said.
The coach said in the next two years he would assess whether the interruptions had taken their 'tool' on his body to deal with the workload.
On a positive note, he said they had more confidence going forward to compete consistently at the top level and challenge for medals.
"We will remain patient and plot our plan of action for the forthcoming winter carefully. I think it's important that after our first full season together, it's been really enjoyable to work with Nijel, and he's been fantastic with his commitment in working with me," he said.
Physio-sports medicine personnel, David Campbell who has been attending Amos' injuries, said the athlete had some injury issues this year. He, however, said when compared to the early stages of his career, he had made progress with less serious injuries.
In the three to four years before they started working with Amos, he said he was hampered by more frequent and serious injuries as he underwent multiple surgeries, missing large chunks of training and competitions.
He, however, said this year he only suffered three injuries missing a total of six to seven weeks training.
Campbell said Amos's tight knit team at Oregon Track Club Elite, which is made up of him, coach Rowland, James Radcliffe, who is the strength conditioner, had identified a number of opportunities to assist the athlete to become more robust and efficient.
He said they were only 18 months into that process, and that he was confident that they would continue to assist him in the months and years to come to make him more robust and reduce the frequency and seriousness of his injuries.
"One can't deny that Nijel also brings the X-factor to the party when it comes to healing from injury. I have observed few if any who can heal at the speed he heals, its borderline superhero. He appears to almost sleep off injuries by spending days in bed when he gets hurt. That's not to take away how professional Nijel is, eating well, hydrating well and adhering to our protocols, he has a God give gift," Campbell said
He said Amos had taken huge strides forward to getting back to where he knows he belongs as the best 800m runner in the world.
"For me watching him back a 1.42 win in Monaco with a 1.43 podium in London within 48 hours after missing his flight shows that he is back. Retaining his African title shows he has the racing acumen to run tactically astute, it's been a very positive season performance wise," he said.
He, however, said they were cognizant that next year there was the World Championships in Doha and that they had come up with a strategy, adding that it included a well-planned schedule between coach Rowland and Amos.
He said Radcliffe has devised his strength and conditioning programme to peak at the correct time, and he facilitated the athlete by recommending and rolling out preventative, rehabilitative, maintenance and recovery strategies.
Campbell said he worked with the athlete with massage and stretching, adding that he had also incorporated an exercise prescription, stretching, foam-rolling, cryotherapy, laser-therapy, winter care, dietary assistance to achieve their goal
He said with the World Champions next year he was "excited to get my hands on Nijel during the winter phase to assist him tidy up his asymmetries and deficits."
He said it was something they had wanted to get after since they started working together in early 2017, but that the timing of the season did not allow them to implement the strategy to the fullest.
"We as a team picked our battles last year and this winter the time is ready to really work on preventative strategies. It's building on what we've already achieved. It may be boring, it may be a grind at times, but hopefully it will bear fruit for Zoro come the worlds next year in Doha and beyond," he said.
Source : BOPA