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Home » News » Sports » Makwala’s worth much more than gold

Makwala’s worth much more than gold

Publishing Date : 16 April, 2018

Author : MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE

When Isaac Makwala stepped up for the 400m race inside drenched Carrara Stadium at Gold coast Australia, he probably knew this was his last attempt to deliver home a medal from the global stage.


Distance memories of the 2017 World Championship games failure came flooding in the minds of those who doubted the ability of the 31 year old runner.  After running a solo race, catching the attention of the athletics world, Makwala could not storm to the podium finish when he chose to run the 200m (instead of 400m) race alongside the company of South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk, who happens to be the race record holder.


But at Australia in the 21st edition of the Commonwealth games, without Van Niekerk, without Bahamas’ Steven Gardiner and without Kirane James of Granada, the roar was not the same. This time around, the melodious cheers of Tuesday afternoon carried a more meaningful weight than before. After so many years of failure, Makwala had a life and death opportunity to rewrite his name in the world athletics folklore. This is the same sport he has, from time immemorial, electrified with a burst of sheer speed and joy.


At Australia, few athletes knew more about time than they actually knew about Makwala. Even with the upcoming talent of Baboloki Thebe, it was no exception. And after so many attempts of failing to chase this ‘time’ down and probably exploding it into pieces, when Makwala eventually caught up with it, he tore it apart. He stormed into the finishing line alone with a time of 44:35. For all the good reasons, the eyes of the world were glued on this Botswana born runner. He came into this race as the overwhelming favourite. His eyes and body language told a simple short story of intent.


No doubt that in so many ways he had seen his final crowning moment coming. It was the one attitude- gracious winner-that he punctuated the victory with his trademark push ups. A race performed with as much aplomb came to a staggering end just under 44 seconds.
“I am so happy that I have finally won what I want; I have trained hard for this. I am actually happy for Southern African countries, like Botswana and South Africa, they have now started to show dominance,” Makwala was quoted as saying after the race.


Statistically, Makwala came to this year’s Commonwealth games as the 8th fastest runner of the 400m race, but when the curtain finally fell down on his illustrious career, he was catapulted to the third spot in the history of the race. That was coming!  On his heats and semi-finals, the Tutume born runner showed command and glimpses of dominance. He was never beaten; no runner on these preparatory races raised his hand to upset the phone book in the finals ahead.


One of the many things that Makwala has brought to this race of all sporting dramas is a sense of unfolding narrative. Because of his size, he has routinely started before his competitors, and then inexorably ran them down, but unfortunately too slow in the last 200m. What used to happen at the last half of the race, however, this time didn’t quite happen. For the first time, as he neared the line, relaxation showed on his face, he did not look like all the others. But the expression was quickly replaced by a broad smile of gratitude and relief.


At 32, Makwala’s career has never been much about to break records, but about proving himself as the flawless competitor who deserves worldwide attention. He is now the first Motswana runner of the 400m race to deliver gold. It could not come at a better time when he has rumoured to be eluding doping tests enroute to Australia. But for all the medals and the records, it is fun in its broadest sense, the indomitable overflow of pleasure, for which Makwala is now remembered for. He has dramatised all that human bodies might be capable of, and done so in a spirit not of “focus” but of celebration.

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