Botswana's Isaac Makwala in action in the 400m (© Victah Sailor)
Less than 24 hours after South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk broke his African record with 43.96 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris, Isaac Makwala took it back with a sensational 43.72 run at the Resisprint meeting in the Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds on Sunday (5).
Makwala’s previous African record was set at the 2014 edition of this meeting, where he ran 44.01. Just two days short of the record’s first anniversary, van Niekerk shaved 0.05 from that mark in the French capital on Saturday.
Determined to take it back, Botswana’s Makwala shot into the lead in La Chaux-de-Fonds and had a sizeable lead at half way. Qatari teenager Abdalelah Haroun came on strong in the closing stages, but Makwala was able to hold on to his lead.
He crossed the line in 43.72, the fastest time in the world since Jeremy Wariner won the world title in 2007. Now the fastest non-US 400m sprinter in history, Makwala moves to fifth on the world all-time list, ahead of Olympic champion Kirani James and world champion LaShawn Merritt.
It is the third year in a row in which Makwala has competed in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In 2013 he clocked a national 200m record of 20.21 and a 400m season’s best of 45.86. One year later, he improved his 200m record to 19.96 and clocked 44.01 over 400m.
His fastest 400m time outside of Switzerland is his 44.23 clocking, set when winning the African title in Marrakech last year.
In second, Haroun recorded a senior Asian record of 44.27 to finally better the 44.68 PB he has clocked three times this year. The 18-year-old moves to second on the world junior all-time list, 0.40 behind world junior record-holder Steve Lewis.
South Africa’s Henricho Bruintjies set a South African record in the 100m. The 21-year-old ran 9.97 (0.8m/s) in the heats but was met with a -2.1m/s headwind in the final, which he won in 10.28.
The top three finishers in the women’s 400m set PBs. Nigeria’s Patience George won in 50.76, half a second faster than her previous best, while Zambia’s Kabange Mupopo broke her own national record by 0.01 with 50.86 in second place. Italy’s Maria Benedicta Chigbolu was third in 51.67.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF