There’s Mer­ritt in Wayde’s dou­ble bid

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

DOU­BLE the trou­ble and twice the work­load is what awaits South African sprint king Wayde van Niek­erk when launches his golden 200/400m cam­paign at the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don over the week­end. It is one thing to make your in­ten­tions clear and quite an­other to pro­duce the goods against the best in the world. At­tempt­ing to be­come the first man since Amer­i­can icon Michael John­son at Gothen­burg in 1995 to win the 200/400m dou­ble, Van Niek­erk will have his work cut out. Start­ing to­mor­row , he will back in the blocks in the onelap sprint against old and new young Turks. He will have to nav­i­gate past the semi-fi­nals on Sun­day be­fore the mo­ment of truth on Tues­day evening. He goes up against for­mer world cham­pion LaShawn Mer­ritt of the US, who fin­ished be­hind Van Niek­erk in both the world cham­pi­onship and Rio Olympics fi­nals. Mer­ritt is no stranger to the cruel twists of track and field with the vet­eran post­ing sub-44sec times with­out win­ning. “When I came into the sport I faced peo­ple who were dom­i­nant, Jeremy Wariner, I had a run my­self, Ki­rani James, so it is noth­ing new for me,” Mer­ritt said. “Peo­ple will come into this event and run well, and the best you can do is to keep work­ing hard, and con­tinue to lay it out on the track ev­ery time you step out there. “It is noth­ing new to me, I’ve been do­ing this for the last 13 years, it is not my first world cham­pi­onships where I haven’t raced in a while.” The big­gest threat to Van Niek­erk’s dou­ble could come from fel­low south­ern African Isaac Mak­wala of Botswana, who will also be lin­ing up in the 200 and 400m. Mak­wala boasts the third fastest time in the world this year be­hind Van Niek­erk with the 43.84 he posted at the Monaco Di­a­mond League meet­ing, where he fin­ished sec­ond to the South African. The Botswana ath­lete in turn holds the world lead in the 200m with the per­sonal best 19.77 he clocked in Madrid last month. SA 100m record holder Akani Sim­bine, who has the fifth fastest time this year of 19.95sec, will also fancy his chances of reach­ing the fi­nal and chal­leng­ing for a podium place.

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