Recording breaking 400m star, Isaac Makwala says athletics can only enjoy the limelight if there was no football in Botswana. Makwala ran 43:72 to set a new African record in Switzerland on Sunday.
Effectively, Makwala believes athletics will continue to play second fiddle to football, which receives millions of Pula in government grants and sponsorships from the private sector.
The Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) has a five-tier system, which places football at the top of the pile in terms of financial allocations.
Makwala, who holds all three national sprint records, told Mmegi Sport that he believes a lot can be done to recognise their efforts. “There is no support from the government and the nation at large.
I do not see this changing. Maybe if there was no football something was going to change,” he said. Makwala eased into the history books on Sunday when he smashed a 24hour old 400m record. A South African, Wayde van Niekerk had run 43:96, beating Makwala’s previous African best of 44:01 set in Switzerland in 2014.
Athletics, rated in tier two under the BNSC’s empowerment system has performed exceedingly well and thrust the country into global limelight. Athletes such as Glody Dube, Gable Garenamotse, Justice Dipeba, Kabelo Kgosiemang, Amantle Montsho, Makwala and lately Nijel Amos, have taken turns to hog the international limelight.
It is athletics that brought the first Olympic medal to the country when Amos won siler in the 800m three years ago, while Montsho became the country’s first world champion in any discipline, in 2011.
Makwala’s feat was broken in seconds
His new time of 43:72 means that Makwala was covering an average of 100m every 10:93; he ran 9.14 metres every second, meaning by the time an average person blinks, the athlete had already covered almost 10 metres. This is fifth fastest time in the 400m history and the best by a non American.