IAAF purged Makwala - Khama

Dikarabo Ramadubu
Monday, 21 August 2017
HE DESERVED BETTER…Khama shared his thoughts on the Makwala saga this week HE DESERVED BETTER…Khama shared his thoughts on the Makwala saga this week

The President of  Botswana Lieutenant General Dr Ian Khama said the IAAF should have given   Isaac Makwala  the  opportunity to run another solo time  trial  for the  400m final. Khama,  who is  both  passiionate  and   enthusiastic  about  sports,  said Makwala  should  have   received if his time qualifies him to in  the  envisaged  400m time  trial.

Many  around  the   world  felt  was unfairly  denied an opportunity to win a medal in the 400 m  finals.  Speaking to BG Sports in an  exclusive  interview  this  week, Khama  said  the IAAF should have allowed Makwala to compete  on his own and if his time is better or equalled whoever came first, he should have been awarded  a gold medal.  “I am not saying take away from the person who did win, but he should have been given his medal. Similarly the same should have been done if his time equalled or better than those who won any medals,” Khama  said.

The  president   argued  that there  have  been situations where athletes   record  a  similar  time  and  the  tie  resulted  in   both  competitors  being awarded the same medals. “IAAF should have followed the same  example and allowed him to match the times in those categories.”

However, Khama said his government cannot pursue that matter further as they are not allowed to interfere with the decisions and or sports administration matters. The president  praised Makwala for doing extremely well despite all the challenges that he faced. The enthusiastic  Khama  pointed  out  that  he   was speaking as both the number one citizen and  a citizen of  Botswana.  “To put it mildly I was suspicious, I could not understand when, I heard he (Makwala) was unwell and that he was supposed to be on quarantine but I actually saw it on television when he was being prevented from entering the stadium. He was confronted  by about 3 or 4 officials  and I thought to myself, but if you are worried about someone spreading some virus,  you would not want them to mix with anybody,  not just athletes , but the more people you come into contact with, the more you are going to spread the virus.”  Khama  said  in  such a case one would have expected that if   Makwala  had anything  contagious he would have been confined to a medical centre and a medical ward or bed and limit the contact with anybody but that  was  not  the  case. “He said he was feeling well enough to participate in that particular event and he was prevented from doing so.

 I think it was an extremely unfortunate decision. I used the word suspicious, but you know the IAAF is a credible organisation, so one would not want to suggest that there was something underhand.” The  president  said the matter was both badly and incompetently handled and  proof of  this is when they then allowed Makwala to qualify for the 200 metres running on his own, which was something quite rare. “The fact that they said you can go and qualify , but you will have to do it on your own is an indication to me  that clearly they were wrong. If they were right, they would have said to him that sorry your opportunity to qualify is over.  So they had him there running on his own allowing him to qualify which I think is the proof.” 

Khama  said  Makwala did extremely well because the others earlier ran when the track was dry, adding  that it was not raining  when  Makwala’s  rivals were  competing amongst themselves, which motivated them to obviously  do better times. “ To run on his own on a wet track when it was raining Makwala  did well to eventually qualify under those conditions

Khama  conceded that Makwala  did not  win the  200 metre finals there  are  usually  extenal  factors  at play. 

“I think when you perform be it an athlete or any line of work that you do, there are always factors which can affect your performance day to day, it could be anything, and I think what had happened to him probably affected his performance in the finals, especially when you know the 200 metres is not his favourite race, but rather 400 metres.” Khama  is  of the  opinion  that   should the IAAF have done the same for the 400m  even though they had already ran the finals. 

The  question  that  remains  regarding  the  matter  is  whether   the matter is over as far as government is concerned or  will  it  the  prusued  further. Khama’s response was that when it comes to sports administration, government  does  not  interfere. “The best example is  with  football  and  FIFA. Governments are not supposed to or are not able to intervene.The best thing you can do and I know the minister was briefing me was that he and the team of officials we had in London were consistently mounting  pressure on the IAAF to appeal and make representation on Makwala’s  behalf and at the end of the day there is nothing that the government can do as we have no influence over the IAAF.”

“I think the matter was badly handled and he has been denied an opportunity to excel. As an athlete you are limited by your youth, when you lose an opportunity  it’s a  disadvantage   as he is 30 years old. His  career is pretty much coming to an end, but we will support him for as long as he represents this country.” Khama  said  it is unfortunate that someone from the country had an opportunity to win a medal and that opportunity was taken away from him.  “We do not know If he will have another opportunity again, and that is the very sad thing . Those people should know better, the head of IAAF was an athlete himself so he knows what it means for him to be able to participate.”

Quizzed on  whether he was  serious  about  building a sports  facility  in Tutume and naming it  after Makwala, Khama said government  was  intending to do so. Khama  said  building stadiums  around the  country came at great costs. “The programme was derailed by budgetary constraints and recessions and so on. Yet we have recognised that we must try as best as possible to provide facilities for our sports people.” What we have basically decided is that we want to put up stadiums, we do not have to build the Gaborone type of stadium everywhere in the country. 

“We can put up sports complex or mini stadium   enough to take care of athletics, football, volleyball, softball etc, and seating stands for spectators, that we should attempt to do and we have agreed to do that for each constituency.” We were going to start off with 20 areas. “What I had said in Tutume is that the village will be included in the first batch. Whatever we put in Tutume will be made after Makwala in recognition of his courage and determination in the face of the great challenges he came across. I am fully aware that all our athletes are determined and courageous people, but if you think of what he went through and how he qualified for the finals under those circumstances.”

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