Isaac Makwala of Botswana after winning the 400m (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Personal bests – Isaac Makwala

African 400m record holder Isaac Makwala enjoyed a stellar breakthrough year in 2014, winning the 2014 African 400m title.

He was also in action at the weekend at the IAAF/BTC World Relays, Bahamas 2015, where he helped Botswana make the final of the 4x400m and qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

We chat to Makwala to find out more about his life.

My best achievement in athletics

It was when I represented Africa at the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech. I finished second in the individual 400m and helped Africa win gold in the 4x400m and that was a big moment for me because I was not only representing my country, but my whole continent.

My greatest disappointment

So far my biggest disappointment was the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I went to Glasgow as the second fastest in the Commonwealth for the 400m, behind Kirani James, so to fall short and not even make the final was a big disappointment. (Makwala found the cold conditions in Scotland not to his liking and he exited at the semi-final stage).

My greatest rival

I have two: American LaShawn Merritt and the Grenada’s Kirani James. I have only competed once against Kirani James but competed more regularly against LaShawn Merritt.

The 400m has such a tradition in America it is almost as if the event was born there, so I know because LaShawn is American I will always get the toughest of opposition. I'm yet to beat him, but I hope 2015 will be a lucky year for me.

My best friend in athletics

I would say my fellow Botswanan Nijel Amos (Olympic 800m silver medallist). We know each other well from travelling the Diamond League circuit. He is a good guy, a funny guy and we often share a room together at major championships.

My best piece of coaching advice

My coach, Justice Dipeba, sends many motivational messages to me. One of my favourites is 'champions are not born, champions are made'. I like this because he is saying anything can be achieved through training hard and hard work.

My favourite track

La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. This is where I set a Botswanan 200m record of 20.21 in 2013 and it is also where I set my African 400m record of 44.01 last year. (Note, he also ran 19.96 for the 200m there to accomplish the fastest ever same-day 200m/400m double in history.)

The weather is always good, no wind or rain. The weather is so perfect. For sure, I will be competing there in 2015.

The best athlete you've ever seen

I would have to say the greatest athlete in the world is Usain Bolt because he is the world record holder of the 100m and 200m and he has broken those records many times.

I used to train with Usain in Jamaica and although he was not as strong as his training partner Yohan Blake in practise, when it came to the competition Usain was so good.

My greatest weakness

In athletics, I don't know my weakness so far. Maybe, I have a weakness for not doing warm-ups as well as I should. 

My best pre-competition song

I don't listen to music. I just sleep and then go to the track.

Steve Landells for the IAAF

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