Four-time Olympic medallist Yohan Blake says because of Isaac Makwala’s work ethic, people were afraid to train with the athlete from Botswana during his brief stay in Jamaica in 2021.
Blake is one of those who did.
Makwala moved to Jamaica for high intensity training when under the tutelage of renowned athletics coach Glen Mills who is credited with the success of Usain Bolt. “Makwala is a hard worker. I am going to share something that he will probably not tell people,” Blake says right away in his foreword to Makwala’s book, “The Solo Runner: The Untold Story of Isaac Makwala,” which was launched this week.
“When he trained with the Racers Track Club, he was the only athlete who could run three 400m races back-to-back, with a lot of consistency. In the middle of these 400m races, he would be doing push-ups and other abdominal exercises.”
Blake goes on to state that Bolt was so impressed with Makwala’s work ethic that he described him as “an animal” at one of the training sessions. “People were always afraid to train with Makwala because of his strength, he trains hard,” says Blake. “I am happy that his hard work paid off when he won the 2017 Diamond League Trophy, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal and the 2020 Olympic Games bronze medal.”
Blake, who was born in St. James Parish, Jamaica in 1989, has more to say of Makwala. He characterizes Makwala as a very friendly individual who is easy to get along with. Blake says during his stay in Jamaica, Makwala built positive relationships with all the coaches and athletes. “I raced him in one of his early time trials and I actually beat him and after the race he did not have much to say except to congratulate me,” he notes.
“We remained friends till today. Makwala also has great respect for good leadership and authority. One of his positive traits is that he has a good sense of autonomy and he speaks his mind.”
Blake, who is regarded as one of the world’s best 100m and 200m athletes, speaks of Makwala as a kind human being, noting that this is a rare trait among elite athletes, particularly the most successful ones. “It is refreshing to see Makwala coming from humble beginnings to this huge success and maintain a high level of rectitude,” he says.
The author of Makwala’s biography is Dr Tshepang Tshube, a former athlete and now a senior lecturer in the Department of Sports Science at the University of Botswana. Dr Tshube refers to the book he wrote as Makwala’s journey of hope and a narration of focus and determination. “This is a story of not looking back and of maintaining a one-track mind to achieve your ultimate desire despite your background and in spite of the odds that may be before you,” he says.
“It is an impactful story of a Kalanga warrior with a one-track mind; a man with a hunger to win propelled by the cheers of the crowd. It is the journey of a man who strives to beat only himself and who crosses the finish line as fast as he can. This book narrates all that this athletic giant is about and elaborates on what it takes to leave a legacy formed out of nothing but sheer will.”
Blake is the world’s second fastest sprint athlete in the men’s 100m and 200m races with personal bests (PBs) of 9.69 seconds and 19.26 seconds respectively. The only athlete who has run faster times than him is his compatriot and former training partner, Usain Bolt.
Blake is also credited with being the only athlete who got closer to the superior Bolt at the London 2012 Olympics when he won silver medals behind the sprint legend in the 100m and 200m races. He then teamed up with Bolt to claim gold and the world record of 36.84 seconds in the 4x100m relay at the same competition. He helped the Jamaican men’s 4x100m relay team win another gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
This is the athlete who became the world’s 100m champion (9.92 seconds) at the Daegu 2011 World Championships as an influential member of the Jamaican men’s 4x100m relay team. The record-breaking and highly-decorated athlete has now written the foreword to Makwala’s book.
The two are described as best friends.