Sprinter, Isaac Makwala, pulled a surprise yesterday when he opted out of the 400m senior men’s final at the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) National Championships held at the National Stadium due to injury.
Makwala instead settled for the 200m. The sprinter qualified for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games in the 400m category on Saturday reaching the finishing line in 44:56.
After opting out of yesterday’s 400m final, Makwala was however able to run the 200m final where he cruised to the time of 20:15 to qualify for the Olympics.
Speaking to Sport Monitor, the Meet manager, Thomas Ndadzila said they received a report that Makwala was injured after the 400m heat and a medical report stated that he could not run the 400m final.
“His camp had to confirm in the morning whether he was to run the 200m final or not. But in the end, they confirmed that he was ready for the 200m. That is why he did not run. We had no choice, but to believe the medical report from outside. Unless if the organisers had provided a doctor in the venue,” Ndadzila said.
National team coach, Justice Dipeba explained that Makwala had requested to try his luck in the 200m. He said the decision depended on the organisers to either accept or deny the request that they put forward.
For his part, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) vice president, Oabona Theetso said Makwala could only miss an event on medical grounds, but anything else would disqualify him from the entire championship. Theetso said the Meet Manager would decide, but emphasised that rules have to be applied, not in a selective manner.
Meanwhile, Makwala said that was his moment to qualify. “When I take you back to 2014 when I started to run sub 44, it was in May. I knew I was going run fast, but not in 400m but in 200m, because my focus is on 200m. I am running 400m just for the sake of the relay. Even at the Olympics I want to run 200m. Competing at the World Relays also worked for me, it pushed me to this level,” he said.
Regarding Makwala’s performance, Dipeba said they anticipated that he would qualify during the heats, He said it is the second time for the athlete to qualify during the heats stage after doing the same thing in the last Olympics.
“I saw his speed during the week and on Wednesday I had to cut the session short, because he was running really fast. We are monitoring his programme, I make sure that he rests longer and cut the work load. I make sure that he does not burn out. I have worked with Makwala for a long time and I know him better. I was not worried about his qualification, because I knew come May or June he is going in,” Dipeba said.