Crowd favourites beaten in world titles boilover

Silver medallist Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa after the men's 200m final.
Silver medallist Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa after the men's 200m final. FRANCK ROBICHON

LONDON clearly doesn't believe in fairytales.

First Usain Bolt was denied the perfect ending to his career, then fellow veteran Allyson Felix missed out on gold in the 400m and now to cap it off the 200m men's final went against the fairytale as well.

Wayde van Niekerk came to these world championships trying to be the first man since the great Michael Johnson in 1995 to claim the 200m/400m double.

He took care of the 400m easily earlier in the week but on Thursday night was denied the double by Turkey's Ramil Guliyev.

The South African had to settle for the silver medal but that wasn't even the sob story of the race.

Everyone inside the Olympic stadium was rooting for one man and one man only, Botswana's Isaac Makwala.

Makwala's plight has become the story of the world championships after he was banned from running in the 400m final because of red-tape and an IAAF ban over a virus outbreak.

The Makwala saga started when he was sick prior to the 200m heats and it was then revealed he was staying at a hotel in London where more than 30 athletes and staff had been affected by an outbreak of gastro.

He was then quarantined by the IAAF despite Makwala claiming he was ready to race in the 400m final where he was the main challenger to van Niekerk.

Makwala was even denied entry to the stadium for the 400m final before being granted a solo time-trial in the 200m the following day.


Botswana's Isaac Makwala reacts after the men's 200m final at the world championships in London.
Botswana's Isaac Makwala reacts after the men's 200m final at the world championships in London. David J. Phillip

He ran under the targeted time and then finished second in the semi-final to earn a place in the final.

So when the field assembled on the start line there was no doubt who the 60,000 fans in the stand were supporting, it was the man in lane six.

Unfortunately, Makwala failed to produce the happy ending, fading over the final 20m to finish sixth.

"I've had one of the craziest championship journeys ever. I don't think I will ever face this again. I will always pray to not face this again," Makwala said.

"When I got into the race I was feeling good, but the last 50m I was feeling tired. The lactic came. The 4x400m is next."

Guliyev took the world title in 20.09sec from van Niekerk (20.11), with Trinidad and Tobago's Jereem Richards third (20.11).

The spike in performance of the Turkish sprinter has certainly raised eyebrows given his country has a poor history in regards to doping in recent years.

Turkey had more than 40 athletes suspended for doping in the year after the 2012 London Olympics.

Guliyev said his victory shouldn't be looked at as a shock.

"I have shown my best throughout this competition. I delivered my best race at the right time and I'm so happy to be world champion," he said.

"I was competing against some of the best athletes in the world, so it didn't bother me that the attention was on them. Maybe at the next competition everyone will look at me instead."

Van Niekerk, who has set his sights on the 100m/200m double at next year's Commonwealth Games, described his world championships campaign as a "rollercoaster".

"It was really a massive rollercoaster for me, this competition," he said.

"I didn't just celebrate the medal I got tonight, it was more a celebration of the competition overall. Coming away with two medals - both a good colour, gold and silver. I think it's great for my career and another moment to be grateful for.

"It's such a massive relief, this competition has been crazy with highs and lows, the previous two days have been difficult with the weather being so cold too."

Topics:  world athletics championships

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