Series12 Apr 2018

Isaac Makwala: I love sprinting because…


Isaac Makwala at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)

Versatile sprinter Isaac Makwala from Botswana stands at eighth on the world 400m all-time list. Here the newly crowned Commonwealth 400m champion articulates his thoughts on his passion for running quickly.

I started sprinting the 100m, 200m and 400m at school from the age of 10. Back then, I used to finish in the top three but I was never the quickest kid. During my younger days, I played more football then athletics. I was a right-winger (number seven) on the football field for my school team.

Over time, I changed emphasis from a footballer to a sprinter. I wanted to feature more in an individual sport than a team sport and from 2006 I decided to focus on athletics. I recall running at my national championships, after which I was selected for Botswana’s 4x400m team for the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. That was the point I first realised I had a talent for running.

My running idol was the US 400m sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross (2012 Olympic 400m champion). I liked the way she ran and I didn’t want to choose a man to be my hero as I knew I would one day compete against them.

People ask me whether I prefer the 200m or the 400m. It is the 400m; that has been my event since I was young, the event I train so hard for. I do the 200m mainly for speed and I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of the 400m. It is such a tough event to master.

I love sprinting and the pursuit of records. One day I would love to break the world record. This is a big motivation. 

I grew up in a small village with one brother and five sisters and it is amazing how far the sport of athletics has taken me. It has transformed my life in so many ways and has given me a comfortable lifestyle. I love that feeling of being healthy and participating and excelling in sports. That is when I’m at my happiest.

Steve Landells for the IAAF