Making more money in order to be able to fend for his family after his retirement is the only thing that is in Isaac Makwala’s mind, The Business Weekly Sports can reveal.
Turning 37-years old this year, Makwala is the oldest male athlete on Botswana’s national athletics team. He has been a feature on running tracks around the world for more than a decade, and his medal cabinet bears this out.
Inside it are international hauls like the Olympics 4x400m bronze medal, the IAAF Diamond League 400m trophy, as well as gold from the Glasgow 2018 Commonwealth Games in the 400m and the 4x400m. Following this glittering career, Makwala made it clear last year that he will hang up his running shoes this season.
However, his last run is not turning the results that many people expected because he is not giving the performance they are used to. He settled for fifth position in the 400m race at the Birmingham (London) Wanda Diamond League (DL) meet before finishing seventh in the same race at the Eugene (USA) DL meet. Makwala also finished in the sixth position in the 200m at the Rabat (Morocco) DL meet.
In the face of this poor showing in recent times, some people have gone to social media to ask for their favourite athlete to retire because his time on the track is done. Without tackling the question of his assumed decline, Makwala told The Business Weekly Sports by phone from Rome, Italy: “This season I am more focused on making more money so that I may be able to take care of my family after my retirement.
“Some people are saying I am losing more money compared to what I am making, but that is wrong. With this performance, I make more than P15 000 in two races and I can do four races in a month. I also do not have travel expenses to these races because I am invited. The point is that I am not chasing results this season. I have done my part and I just want to enjoy myself on the track as I bid farewell to the sport I love most.”
Do the negative comments on social media affect him? “They do a bit,” he said. “But then I have to remind myself why I am here, forget about them and do my job.” Makwala is clear about his plans. He told The Business Weekly Sports that post his retirement he intends to pursue studies at the University of Botswana where he has been offered an opportunity to choose a course of his liking, before deciding what to do.
He once told this publication that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his coach Justice Dipeba and himself become a coach. “But the way we take sports in Botswana, I don’t think I will coach here,” he said at the time. “Maybe I will opt for other countries because it is difficult to coach in Botswana, working with people who do not even understand what sports is and what athletes need to perform.”
Makwala’s record speaks for the man as one of the best athletes that Botswana has ever produced. He is the national record holder of three sprint races, namely the 200m (19.77), the 300m (31.44) and the 400m (43.72). He also formed part of the 4x400m that smashed the African record to 2:57.27 at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Tutume-born athlete is also the only male athlete in the world to have accomplished the fastest double in a single day, 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. Makwala achieved these master strokes at the La Chaux-de-Fonds meet in Switzerland in 2014.