From the goat farmer to conquer the world :: Mmegi Online

Makwala’s journey to the world stage is captured in a new book, “The Solo Runner: The Untold Story of Isaac Makwala,” written by former athlete and scholar, Tshepang Tshube. The childhood of the 400m athlete is mainly linked to two colonies, Malelejwe and Tutume. According to excerpts from the book due out next month, Makwala grew up with his brothers raising goats and cattle at the Malelejwe herding station, while his sisters helped their mothers cook and care for younger brothers and sisters. sisters.

Boys and girls would collect firewood and water for the family. At the time, Makwala, a 10-year-old boy, walked about three kilometers to fetch water with his siblings. These tasks were performed after school, on weekends and during school holidays. “There was nothing out of the ordinary about this practice as it was a common occurrence in all communities in Botswana. At the time, Makwala had no idea or ambition to be an elite athlete. He didn’t know that there were people in the world who made a living through sports. The few jobs available to him were to be a teacher, driver or soldier. Like many boys in his village, his dream was to become a soldier.

The military camouflage uniform and the loot inspired Makwala and his childhood boys to prefer to join the army, ”reads an excerpt from the book. Makwala’s life has never been on a silver platter. When he thinks he gets emotional. especially when he did not do well in elementary school. Makwala told Msgi Sport that the idea of ​​publishing a book was the brainchild of Tshube, a lecturer in the Department of Sports Sciences at the University of Botswana. “It’s been two years. Since we started discussing the publication of this book, Tshube has approached my wife about the idea and she consulted with me.

But that’s something I wanted to do after the solo race at the London 2017 World Championships. I had to work on it with some people but the project was not a success, ”he said. In 2017, Makwala was banned from running the 400m over claims he had a stomach virus. World Athletics gave him a reprieve and he raced solo in the rain scoring 20.53 seconds in the 200m to advance to the semi-finals. Barely two hours later, he had to return to the semi-finals where he was entrusted with the interior lane, made even more difficult than usual by the accumulation of rainwater. But he still managed to finish in second place in 20.14 seconds, behind American Isiah Young, who was the fastest qualifier. “I always run with a broken heart. I was ready to run the 400m, that’s the race I trained for.

I don’t run the 200m very often, ”Makwala told media after the emotional run. He explained that The Solo Runner tells about his life from his childhood. “We used the London incident because that’s when most people started to know me, the whole world started following me. When my name appears, the solo race is mentioned, ”he said. Makwala said he was excluded from the 400m final because people claimed he was sick. He said it was a painful and difficult thing to bear. “It was a painful and difficult moment to accept.

I had to run alone. It was moving. They gave me time to beat and qualify for the 200m semi-final. I had missed my main race, the 400m, for which I had gone to compete, ”he said. Makwala said working on the book was difficult as he had to relive the incident. “When I talk about the incident, I get emotional. I am retiring without a medal at the World Athletics Championships and this time it was an opportunity for me to win a medal. I don’t know what will happen at the next World Athletics Championships, ”he said.

Makwala said the book should serve as a motivator for other athletes. As a young man growing up in Tutume, Makwala was not good at studying. He completed his third year at Pandagala Junior High School in 2002. He continued his primary education at the old Mpani, now Magapatona. “I must have stayed in Malelejwe for over a year. At that point, I thought my life was over. Luck smiled on me when I enlisted in the Nswazwi brigade. That’s when I joined athletics until I am today, ”he said. Makwala said he did athletics in elementary and secondary schools and knew he was good at it. When he discovered athletics in Nswazwi, he joined it. “One of the days we were going to our rhythms, the Francistown Runners Club visited our practice. They liked what they saw in me. I became their athlete and in 2006 I competed at the national stadium where I was selected for the national team, ”he said. Makwala said at the time that it was not easy to be selected for the national team. “When you were on the national team, you knew you were a good athlete. Other athletes I found there had trained overseas. When countries were mentioned, your head would spin, ”Makwala said.

The biographer, Tshube, saw Makwala when he met him when he was with the national team for the first time at Lelwapa Lodge in 2006. “I was an athlete then. I’ve seen his life change since, until the 2017 World Athletics Championships, when he was banned from racing, until 2018 when he won a Commonwealth Games gold medal. From where he was until today, I felt it was an inspiring story that needed to be told, ”he said. Tshube was curious about what happened in 2017. What was the timeline of activities? What was the first thing that happened until the solo race? He felt that there was conflicting information from World Athletics and the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA). “It was important for us to know exactly what had happened and that was one of the reasons we had to document this.

We have a lot of athletes who have made history in Botswana, but none of them have written a book about them. I felt we had to create this culture, ”he said. Tshube said it was not an easy project as the first thing he did was visit Malelejwe where Makwala stayed after failing the third form. “I took a vehicle, a research assistant and a photographer and we went on a road trip. He was present when we got there and we saw his cattle. It was an important part of the project for us. We then met his parents. It was not difficult because Makwala made everything easy, ”he said.

Tshube conducted interviews with Makwala and the trainer who discovered him. He then went online to watch his old interviews. The Solo Runner project started in 2018. Tshube said that starting November 20, the book will be available on hardcover, Amazon, Kindle and other online platforms. He said the book will be available at launch and that is when the book cover will be released.

He said for the moment that they were keeping everything else a secret. Tshube said there will be a nationwide tour after the launch. “We want the story to be told. We want people to read the book and we think people will read the book. I think there is a culture of reading, it’s just that we don’t talk about it. It’s not that deep. We want people to be inspired. We want a Tonota child to be like a person who stayed in Malelejwe and who is now successful in life, ”he said. Tshube said they wanted people to watch the solo race and interpret it from a positive perspective. “That’s how he reacted after being prevented from running. He was like ‘I’m here to run’. We want people to be inspired. He didn’t do well in school, but he discovered running and he did well, ”Tshube said.

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