Guliyev wins 200 in stunning upset
It wasn’t Wayde van Niekerk and it wasn’t Isaac Makwala.
Instead, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey earned the upset of the world championships on Thursday when he matched Van Niekerk stride for stride and won the 200-metre title by lunging at the line just ahead of the favoured South African.
Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze, while Makwala faded down the stretch and finished sixth.
Guliyev, a little-known 27-year-old sprinter who transferred nationality from Azerbaijan six years ago, was not even among the top-10 performers this year before he stunned his rivals and the 60,000-sellout crowd at the Olympic Stadium, which had come to see Van Niekerk and Makwala fight for gold.
Guliyev finished in 20.09 seconds, .02 seconds ahead of both Van Niekerk and Richards. The South African took silver by .001 seconds.
Guliyev held his hands over his mouth in sheer disbelief after the slow race.
“This is not a shock, but this does not feel real,” said Guliyev, whose best performance coming into the world championships was a silver medal at the European championships last year.
Van Niekerk can only be disappointed with gold and silver. He fell just short of getting the first 200-400 double at the world championships since Michael Johnson in 1995.
In the first 200-metre final without Usain Bolt since 2009, it was wide open from the start.