Botswana's 4x400m team at the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Isaac Makwala’s story behind the picture

Isaac Makwala looks back on what this image of the silver-medal-winning 4x400m team from Botswana at the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 means to him.

 

"This image was taken just before we were going to collect our silver medals at the 2017 IAAF World Relays. We were all very proud of winning Botswana’s first international 4x400m medal and I was so happy. To win a medal here acted as a huge motivation for the future.

"But while my three team-mates looked pleased, I don’t recall a lot of this moment because I was feeling pain.

"I had endured a difficult build up to the event. I picked up a left quad injury, but because we were short on numbers, my coach asked me to run at the World Relays because we had no one else. I had started my season badly and the injury took a long time to heal. I was only training at about 60 per cent but I was excited to be part of the team. I always enjoy the 4x400m and I am always motivated to run well for my country.

"Before the race, I recall we sang Botswanan songs together in the warm-up area and we expected and hoped to win a medal that day.

"I ran the first leg, which is my favourite leg. I did not run too well because of the quad injury, but I ran better than perhaps I should have done because I am always keen to run my best for the team.

"I think I handed the baton to our second leg runner, Baboloki Thebe, in fifth (Makwala ran a 46.14 leg). By the time our anchor leg runner Karabo Sibanda took off, the battle for gold was between the US and us. I tried to keep calm watching the race and in what was a very close finish LaShawn Merritt just helped the US to gold (by 0.15 as Botswana ran 3:02.28).

"It was a great moment for us and the whole of Botswana. It proved to ourselves that we can do it, and when people talk about the 4x400m they also now mention Botswana, which makes us proud. In our homeland, all the kids now want to run the 400m to try to emulate our success."

Steve Landells for the IAAF