The Makwala conundrum

The early Sunday morning social media posts were dominated by Isaac Makwala’s lacklustre run during the heats of the World Relays, which took place in The Bahamas.

Makwala was the first in as he sought to give Botswana's 4x400m relay team a perfect start. However, it didn’t work well as a tiring Makwala faded towards the finish line after a decent run up to the last bend. The reverse gear appeared to kick in as the celebrated veteran runner unsuccessfully tried to summon every ounce of energy left in his body. But athletics super star poster boy, Letsile Tebogo, wasted no time with one of the most stunning repair works on leg two as he surged ahead from a difficult position. It was recorded as the fastest split, at 43.49. In the third leg, Leungo Scotch then saw neighbours, South Africa regain the lead, but still gave a good account to ensure that Bayapo Ndori received the baton without much damage done. Ndori proved why Botswana is highly regarded in the 400m race as he pipped South Africa to the line in a close finish. It was a gratifying start for the 4x400m relay team and by the time you read this, likely a medal will be in the pocket barring any calamity. However, despite the impressive heat run, Makwala’s contribution came under the spotlight.

Not long ago, Makwala had indicated his time on the track had come to a close, but with some strong showing on the local scene, coaches deemed he is still good enough to compete at the highest level. Makwala once said no one told him to start his athletics career and no one, particularly Facebook keyboard warriors, will tell him when to stop. In a career in which he bloomed late, Makwala has often been the saviour, and led the 4x400m team to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, only the country’s second medal at the Olympics. He has had countless high moments but with the laboured run during yesterday’s heat, Makwala will feel his legs are not as light as they used to be. At 37, Makwala knows younger and energetic talent has emerged. He will not be around longer although his experience has proved vital. It will not be up to us behind the keyboards to tell what the coaches and Makwala need to do.

Editor's Comment
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