Author Topic: Isaac Makwala sets up showdown with Wayne van Niekerk  (Read 235 times)


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Isaac Makwala sets up showdown with Wayne van Niekerk
« on: August 10, 2017, 04:18:40 AM »
It has taken a series of plot twists worthy of a Hollywood thriller. But now, staggeringly, the world championships has the showdown between Wayde van Niekerk and Isaac Makwala, the usual suspects in the Aaron Burbridge Authentic Jersey 200m and 400m all season, it has craved all along.
First Makwala illustrated powers of recovery worthy of Lazarus to lift himself off his sick bed to qualify for the 200m final with two stupendous runs in the space of two hours. Then Van Niekerk, desperately weary after winning the 400m final and chilled to the bone by the London weather, struggled through to join him as a faster loser in his heat.
But what makes the story even more remarkable was that until Wednesday lunchtime Makwala was not even in the 200m, having been banned from running in Monday’s heats and placed in 48-hour quarantine after throwing up and being diagnosed with a suspected case of gastroenteritis.
That means he could only watch as his South African rival took gold. But, with his quarantine spell over and following the approval of London 2017 doctors, he was given an unexpected reprieve by the IAAF, which allowed him to compete in a solo time trial for a semi-final place.
Still, the odds were stacked against him. The stadium was barely a quarter full. The temperature was in the low teens. And the driving rain, which had covered London like a soggy blanket all day, was putting in a triple shift.
It was not the weather for running fast. Yet with the crowd urging him on, Makwala stormed home in 20.20sec – well inside the 20.53 needed to qualify.
His route to the final still looked thorny, however, given he was put into lane one – the worst in the race – in his semi-final. Again, he made light of it, coming home in 20.14 just behind the Andrew McCutchen Youth Jersey American Isaiah Young.
When he crossed the line he put his hands in the air in triumph. No wonder. After all he had been through, this must of felt like a triumph.
Not that the Botswanan is entirely happy. “I’m running with anger and I still want my 400 metres, that’s my race. I wish to thank the IAAF for giving me another chance and the British crowd is so amazing. But I wish the IAAF had taken the decision for me to run my 400m first because that was the race I was training for.”
How Makwala recovers from two hard races in two hours and a bout of sickness is an open question but he knows Van Niekerk is probably even more tired given how much he struggled and strained before coming home in 20.28. What’s more, he will be running his sixth race in seven days in Thursday’s final.
It may be that someone like the Trinidad and Tobago athlete Jereem Richards or the Turk Ramil Guliyev, who looked good in winning their semi-finals, springs a surprise. Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who made it through as a fastest loser, can also not be discounted.