Van Niek­erk goes through

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY RAF CASERT

Wayde van Niek­erk’s big­gest ri­val in the 200 me­tres never even made the start line.

Isaac Mak­wala was sup­posed to run in Heat 5 of the first round at the world cham­pi­onships on Mon­day, but the Botswanan’s spot in Lane 7 re­mained empty.

The IAAF later said Mak­wala with­drew “due to a med­i­cal con­di­tion on the in­struc­tion of the IAAF med­i­cal del­e­gate.”

If Mak­wala had no med­i­cal rea­son to with­draw, he would have been in­el­i­gi­ble to com­pete in Tues­day’s 400 fi­nal.

It was un­clear whether Mak­wala’s no-show would ex­tend to Tues­day’s fi­nal of the 400, where he and Van Niek­erk are favoured to go head-to­head for gold.

Van Kiek­erk had ear­lier done his part in the third heat of the 200, keep­ing his quest for the 200-400 dou­ble go­ing. And he spent as lit­tle ef­fort as pos­si­ble.

The South African even seemed ready to do Bri­tish run­ner Daniel Tal­bot a favour by hand­ing him a vic­tory. He eased at the line and twice looked at the hard-charg­ing Tal­bot, but Van Niek­erk still ended up crossing the line .001 sec­onds in front.

Both Van Niek­erk and Tal­bot were timed at 20.16 sec­onds.

Van Niek­erk was smil­ing as he crossed the line, again show­ing the great form he is in at the cham­pi­onships. As de­fend­ing cham­pion, Olympic cham­pion and world-record holder, Van Niek­erk is favoured to get his first gold of this year’s worlds in the 400.

In the first fi­nal on Mon­day, Anita Wlo­dar­czyk of Poland left it late but won her third world ti­tle with one mas­sive ham­mer throw.

Wlo­dar­czyk, the dom­i­nat­ing fig­ure over the past half-decade with two Olympic gold medals, took the lead on her fourth of six at­tempts and then had her win­ning throw of 77.90 me­tres on her penul­ti­mate at­tempt.

Early leader Wang Zheng of China took silver with a throw of 75.98 me­tres and an­other Pole, Mal­wina Ko­pron, won bronze with a toss of 74.76.

An­other mul­ti­ple cham­pion show­ing great form was Chris­tian Tay­lor. The Amer­i­can needed only one at­tempt to show he is still the man to beat in the triple jump.

With the au­to­matic qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard set at 17 me­tres, Tay­lor hit 17.15 right away and reached Thurs­day’s fi­nal.

Tay­lor al­ready has two world ti­tles and two Olympic gold medals.

An­other Amer­i­can, Chris Benard, also im­me­di­ately qual­i­fied for the fi­nal with a mark of 17.20, while 18-year-old Cuban Cris­tian Napoles jumped 17.06.

Aries Mer­ritt will be look­ing to get a sec­ond gold later Mon­day at the Olympic Sta­dium, five years af­ter he won the 110me­ter hur­dles at the Lon­don Games.

Since the 2012 Olympics, Mer­ritt has had a kid­ney trans­plant. But the world-record holder is back near his best at this year’s world cham­pi­onships.

He will face Olympic cham­pion Omar McLeod of Ja­maica and de­fend­ing cham­pion Sergey Shubenkov of Rus­sia.

AP PHOTO/TIM IRE­LAND

South Africa’s Wayde Van Niek­erk and Bri­tain’s Daniel Tal­bot, left, smile as they cross the finish line in their Men’s 200 me­ters heat at the World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships Mon­day in Lon­don.

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