Queen's Baton Relay: Nijel Amos, building on Olympic success

By Mark Beaumont
BBC Queen’s Baton Relay presenter

image copyrightFRANCK FIFE/AFP/GettyImages
image captionNijel Amos celebrating after winning the silver medal at London 2012

At London 2012, 18-year-old Nijel Amos won a silver medal in the 800m and became the fourth fastest man ever over the distance. Not bad for someone who just six months earlier was coached by his geography teacher on a high school dirt track in his native Botswana.

I met Nijel soon after I touched down in Botswana, he talked excitedly as he drove me to the local stadium for a training session.

Brought up by his grandmothers in rural Botswana, Nijel had to walk 7km (4 miles) each way to high school and until the age of 16 he was playing football as much as he was running.

Just a few years later he was given a hero's welcome when he returned from the Olympics. He was given a healthy paycheck from the government and was also honoured with a gift of six cows.

His relaxed charm, along with winning Botswana's first ever Olympic medal, has made Nijel an overnight superstar in his country.

Before London, he was barely known and was expected to simply gain some experience at the Games.

When he made the final, his coach told him that he had nothing to prove. He had already exceeded expectations. In the end, only the incredible talent of David Rudisha from Kenya beat him to the gold with a world record time.

When Nijel crossed the line he celebrated briefly, but told me that he didn't feel that excited. Lying down on the track, he tried to recover for a moment but then he couldn't get up.

The next thing he remembers is waking up in the medical room. He had passed out and had to be stretchered off the track.

media captionQueen's Baton Relay: Nijel Amos

Now, Nijel proudly remembers his achievements from that final and has his medal-winning time - 1:41:73 - tattooed on his forearm.

2013 was a very different story for the 800m runner. After a good start to the season, a thigh injury ruined his progress.

Now, Nijel sees Glasgow 2014 as his big comeback. He will once again compete against Rudisha, the man in the way of his dream of a gold medal if the Kenyan decides to compete at the Games. The battle between the pair will certainly be one to watch this summer.