Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Awards can wait, Rio first-Makwala

Botswana National 400M record holder track runner Isaac Makwala says although he celebrates his Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Award nomination, he has set his eyes on less controversial bigger and better targets.

Makwala who is currently ranked number two in the world following  his strong season debut  on 400M, clocking 45.15 last week  in South Africa gained his first ever BNSC award nomination.

He has been nominated for Sports Man of the Year award facing fierce competition from Ofentse Bakwadi of Botswana Karate Association (BOKA), and Zibani Chikanda of Botswana Boxing Association (BOBA) who both did well in their respective codes in last year’s local and international competitions.

“The category is tight with all these two athletes who are just national champions like me, and it’s not easy to predict the winner because we both don’t know what is considered when choosing the most excellent,” Makwala noted.

The flamboyant athlete made headlines last year when he cried foul after being left out of the 2015 edition questioning the credibility and criteria used in nominating the athletes.
“I thank BNSC for recognizing my hard work and nominating me for the awards after such a long period of excellence in the game. These are the only awards we have in Botswana and it would be a big achievement if i win, but that is not amongst my priorities. Even if I don’t win it nothing changes, winning the award will only be the cherry on top,” he said. 

The 30 year old sprinter hinted that this might be his last Olympics appearance considering his age between now and the next Olympics that will be in 2020.

He further stated that now that he has qualified for this Year’s Olympic Games slated for Brazil’s Capital, Rio in August, the awards were welcome, but not important as he is focusing on attaining an Olympic medal.

“Last year this whole awards disorder disrupted my performance because I lost focus due to my frustrations over the nominations. My whole season was spoilt. I don’t want to invest my hopes on those awards ever again,” he said.

Makwala earned himself a BNSC nomination following his impressive season that culminated in setting an African record of 43.72 seconds last July at La Choux-de-Fonds, Switzerland to become the 2nd all time Africa record holder. He was a finalist at the World Championships and the Gold medalist at the All Africa games held in Congo, Brazzaville and qualified for the Olympics.

He is currently readying for his first international race of the year in the Diamond League slated for   Doha on the 6th of May which he says he will use to to gauge his performance ahead of Rio.

Meanwhile Lydia Jele became the 6th local individual athlete to qualify for the Olympics after clocking a qualifying time of 51.50 seconds last Sunday at the National track and field event held at the national stadium joining Nigel Amos (800m) Onkabetse Nkobolo ,Baboloki Thebe and Isaac Makwala both in (400m) and Naomi Ruele in swimming.
 

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.