The damnable pandemic may have disrupted his plans to run his last 400m race this year but ‘Badman’ Makwala believes he still has a lot to off er on the track, writes TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO.
Former African 400m record holder, Isaac Makwala, has no intention of announcing his retirement from athletics any time soon, Gazette Sport has firmly established. Born in Tutume in 1985, Makwala is the oldest member of Botswana’s national athletics team.
He has been a feature on running tracks around the world for more than a decade, winning accolades that include the IAAF Diamond League 400m trophy. But this record breaking runner has no intention of slowing down in his latter years because he holds that he still has a lot of fuel in his tank.
“I cannot say exactly when I will retire but I know I still have a long way to go,” said the indefatigable athlete who has been running for Botswana since 2006. “My performance on the track will influence that decision.” Speaking with Gazette Sport on the phone, Makwala added that the Tokyo Olympics, now postponed to winter next year, could be his last.
“Because 2024 is far and I do not think I will still have my speed then, I cannot say for sure I can hold out that far,” he said. “But God plans everything and I leave it all to Him.” The Coronavirus is consequential for the 35-year old athlete because this year was a marker for him at the Olympics “That is because I was planning to run my last 400m at this year’s Olympics and then focus only on 200m from next year,” he explained. “Now I have to delay that plan until next year because I do aim to be in the Olympics.”
Makwala is undoubtedly one of the best athletes that Botswana has ever had, considering his record that speaks for the man. He is the national record holder in all sprint races, namely the 100m (10.20), the 200m (19.77) and the 400m (43.72).
Under the tutelage of Justice Dipeba, Makwala established himself as a brand in international athletics in 2014.
That is when he accomplished the fastest double ever in a single day in the 200m and the 400m races, breaking the 400m African record in 44.01 and winning the 200m in 19.96 one and-a-half hours later. He performed this feat at the La Chaux-de-Fonds meet in Switzerland.
But Makwala would achieve greater fame at the 2017 World Championships when he ran a solo time 200m trial in 20.20s to qualify for the semi-finals. Two hours later, he qualified for the final after going 0.06 sec quicker. He had to run the solo time trial because he was barred from taking part in 200m heats after he was suspected to have the Norovirus. But he also did not run the 400m final where he was the most significant threat to the eventual champion, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk.
Proving himself hard to put down, Makwala tasted his maiden title (with the national team) in 2018 when he claimed the Commonwealth Games 400m gold medal in 44.35. A dull season followed last year due mainly to injuries.
And just when he was on the cusp of a comeback this season, a murderous virus struck the world and forced people inside their homes everywhere. It is Isaac Makwala’s most earnest hope that COVID-19 will pass so that he may stamp his authority on the tracks in Tokyo next year. At least one more time.