On 5 July 2015, Isaac Makwala sped to a 400m personal best (PB) and national record of 43.72 seconds at the La Chaux-de-Fonds meet in Switzerland. This is the athlete who is regarded as a late bloomer and has never represented Botswana at junior levels.
Born in Tutume in 1985, Makwala made his first national team appearance as a senior athlete (aged 22) in 2007. More than a decade later, Badman as Makwala is affectionately known is the national record holder in all sprint races, namely the 100m (10.20), the 200m (19.77) and the 400m (43.72).
However, to sustain the records, Badman went through tough times in his ealry career and only got to turn fortunes around in 2014 under the tutelege of Justice Dipeba.
That is when he established himself as a brand in international athletics by accomplishing 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. He recorded his 400m PB at the same meet in 2015.
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.
Now aged 35, Makwala is undoubtedly one of the best athletes that Botswana has ever had, considering his record that speaks for the man. He is a two time 400 African Champion (2012 and 2014), IAAF Diamond League 400 trophy winner and 2018 Commonwealth Games 400m champion among many accolades that he hold.
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.