History was made for Botswana at this year’s 2017 World Championships which saw Isaac Makwala run the 200m heats alone in order to qualify for the semi-finals and eventually the finals after he missed the heats over unclear ban that was not communicated to the athlete and Botswana officials properly. This saw the whole world uniting against the IAAF body seeking justice for Makwala, which resulted with him being given a chance to run the 200m after he had missed it because of an alleged stomach infection which required that he be isolated. He has maintained that he was not tested by any doctor. Makwala became a hero overnight with the world media rallying behind him as they felt that he was cheated and that his situation was one of those that highlighted the corruption in sports. Conspiracy theories arose as some boldly stated that the reason why Makwala was sabotaged by the IAAF was because they did not want him to beat the new poster boy in South African sprinter Wayde Van Niekerk in both 200m and 400m. The double in the races were last won USA sprinter Michael Johnson in 1995. Johnson contributed to the controversy around Makwala by advocating for him to be treated fairly. Now that the races are over what has been left among Batswana and South Africans all over social media is a bitter war where the South Africans feel that Batswana and the world think that their Wayde did not deserve the gold medal that he got in the 400m. Some believe that with the attention that Makwala managed to bring to Botswana in these World Championships it is worth more than getting even gold at those championships. The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng said that they will continue to fight as country for what is theirs as he also believes that they have been duped in the 400m race. He said they have engaged with lawyers on the issue to see how they can progress forward.
Makwala put salt to the wound when he said that he is still bleeding for 400m because that is his race. Makwala said Niekerk was his friend and could not be part of the conspiracy against him. “Wayde is my friend, I can never say such things about him and he was so hurt that I did not compete because he wanted to race with me. After he knew that I was withdrawn from the race he immediately sent me a message to say he is sorry, he is a great guy,” he said. Makwala thanked Batswana for rallying behind him the way they did. He said he is more focused than ever as he has realised that it is God that makes everything possible and his race has taught him a lot. Some have said there is an urgent need to establish an independent entity to manage the affairs of Botswana athletes. Former athlete Glody Dube reiterated that such entity is a must. “As a country we don’t take this seriously and until we take this as a business like in other countries we will continue to suffer,” he said. Dube said it is time that athletes are employed fully and paid by a body monthly so that they don’t have to do other things because as far as it stands now running is a risk because the moment they get injured they are dumped and their career is over with nothing to feed themselves. “But I can say what Batswana have shown with this year’s championships is amazing. It should be support through regardless of a win or lose because our athletes did so well if you understand the calibre of world championships,” he said. He said they fought but it was not their time. Having failed to get a medal in all events so far, the country’s only hope now lies with the relay teams where Makwala will once more be expected to lead from the front. Nijel Amos and Baboloki Thebe who had qualified for 800m and 400m metres final failed to win a medal. Meanwhile President Ian Khama has announced a P100 000 incentive for Makwala as a consolation for being barred from entering the 400m final.