Mak­wala makes good on a sec­ond chance

Run­ner from Botswana beats the rain, stom­ach virus to reach 200 fi­nal

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY RAF CASERT

Af­ter five pushups to prove he has beaten a stom­ach virus, Isaac Mak­wala made the most of a be­lated chance to com­pete in the 200 me­tres at the world cham­pi­onships on Wed­nes­day and qual­i­fied for the fi­nal.

The run­ner from Botswana was first al­lowed to race alone on the track ahead of the evening ses­sion at the Olympic Sta­dium, two days af­ter the other sprint­ers did so. He fin­ished in 20.20 sec­onds, .33 sec­onds un­der the qual­i­fy­ing mark.

He was then given a tough as­sign­ment to reach the fi­nal, but de­spite the tight bend and the wa­ter pud­dles from the re­lent­less rain in Lane 1, he pow­ered through to qual­ify sec­ond from his heat in 20.14, just be­hind Isiah Young of the United States.

“Let’s not talk about what hap­pened. Let’s talk about what is now,” Mak­wala said. “I’m happy the IAAF de­cided to make me run again. I’m happy to run again.”

Mak­wala’s big­gest ri­val for gold, 400 cham­pion Wayde van Niek­erk, got through to Thurs­day’s fi­nal as the last qual­i­fier af­ter fin­ish­ing third in his heat. Given the much bet­ter Lane 6, Van Niek­erk was still much slower than Mak­wala, fin­ish­ing in 20.28.

“I knew it would be a tough chal­lenge,” Van Niek­erk said. “I have time to re­cover now.”

Af­ter two races in one evening, Mak­wala will need it even more. The Botswanan was kept out of the 400 fi­nal by or­ga­niz­ers on Tues­day be­cause of the stom­ach virus.

He also pulled out of the open­ing heats in the 200 on Mon­day be­cause of ill­ness.

“I am run­ning with anger,” Mak­wala said. “The 400 me­tres is my race. But thanks to the crowd, they were amaz­ing.”

Af­ter 48 hours of drama about whether Mak­wala would be al­lowed to run any more races at the cham­pi­onships, the IAAF made an ex­cep­tion and sent Mak­wala out on his own in driv­ing rain Wed­nes­day evening chas­ing a mark of 20.53 sec­onds.

The Botswanan did it eas­ily, and then got down on the track and did a hand­ful of pushups as the crowd roared.

Mak­wala had al­ready qual­i­fied for the 400 fi­nal when he was a no-show for the 200 heats, suf­fer­ing from a stom­ach virus that af­fected about 30 peo­ple at the cham­pi­onships.

Be­cause of the dan­ger to other ath­letes, the IAAF kept him out of that 400 fi­nal, de­spite Mak­wala’s in­sis­tence that he was back to full fit­ness.

“I’m still run­ning with my heart bro­ken,” Mak­wala said. “I was ready to run.”

In the women’s 400, it was Phyl­lis Fran­cis of the United States who up­set the favourites.

Olympic cham­pion Shau­nae Miller-Uibo looked poised to win gold un­til she slowed in the fi­nal me­ters, seem­ingly with pain in her right leg.

Salwa Eid Naser swept past Allyson Felix near the line and lunged for sil­ver, ahead of the Amer­i­can veteran.

Fran­cis fin­ished in 49.92 sec­onds, .14 sec­onds ahead of Naser. Felix took third in 50.08 and Miller-Uibo was fourth.

“At the fin­ish line I was sur­prised. I thought I was sec­ond or third,” Fran­cis said. “But then they told me, ‘You are first.’ That is crazy.”

De­spite her dis­ap­point­ing third-place fin­ish, Felix won her 14th ca­reer medal at the world cham­pi­onships.

That put her in a tie with Usain Bolt and Mer­lene Ottey at the top of the list.

Bolt can still move to 15 with a medal in the 4x100 re­lay this week­end, but Felix might run on both re­lay races for the U.S. team, which could bring her to 16.

ap phoTo/TIm Ire­Land

Botswana’s Isaac Mak­wala re­acts af­ter fin­ish­ing a men’s 200m semi­fi­nal dur­ing the World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don, Wed­nes­day.

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