What will Pep pro­duce this sea­son?

Isaac Mak­wala’s al­le­ga­tion over an IAAF ‘con­spir­acy’ brings Wayde to tears

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

IN A cathartic mo­ment Wayde van Niekerk’s emo­tions re­vealed the pres­sures and enor­mity of his feat of rac­ing and win­ning medals at the world cham­pi­onships.

Shortly af­ter he crossed the line in sec­ond place to add the 200m sil­ver to the 400m gold from two days ear­lier, Van Niekerk bat­tled to hold back the tears in a BBC in­ter­view.

Van Niekerk had dared to take on one of the most tax­ing sched­ules at the world cham­pi­onships and man­aged to suc­cess­fully de­fend his 400m ti­tle, and add the 200m sil­ver.

The South African had com­pleted six days of com­pet­i­tive rac­ing, which in­cluded three 200s in as many days and three lac­tic-acid in­duc­ing 400s.

Asked about the rea­son for the tears, Van Niekerk said he felt dis­re­spected by crowd-favourite Isaac Mak­wala of Botswana ear­lier in the week.

Mak­wala missed out on the 400m af­ter he was placed un­der 48-hours quar­an­tine fol­low­ing a con­firmed out­break of norovirus among ath­letes at the cham­pi­onships.

Con­spir­acy the­o­rists sug- gested the IAAF’s with­drawal of Mak­wala from Mon­day’s 200m heats af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with an in­fec­tious dis­ease was part of a du­bi­ous scheme to give Van Niekerk easy pas­sage to the podium in both the 200m and 400m.

“It re­ally did up­set me a bit, es­pe­cially the amount of re­spect I’ve shown each and ev­ery com­peti­tor I com­pete against, in­clud­ing Mak­wala,” Van Niekerk said.

“I’ve shown him mas­sive re­spect and for him to men­tion my name among some­thing fishy hap­pen­ing in the IAAF, and point­ing me out as a favourite… I de­serve way more re­spect from my com­peti­tors.”

Mak­wala raced into the hearts and minds of ath­let­ics fans when he ran a solo time trial to qual­ify for the 200m semi-fi­nal.

Con­sid­ered as one of Van Niekerk’s big­gest threats, Mak­wala fin­ished in sixth place in the 200m fi­nal, post­ing a time of 20.44.

To com­pound Van Niekerk’s dou­ble chal­lenge, the Bri­tish sum­mer dished up two days of cold, wet and mis­er­able weather on the days he raced his 400m fi­nal and 200m semi­fi­nal.

“The fact was the legs were go­ing whether I was con­cerned or not, I just tried to con­tinue fight­ing and mak­ing sure I get over the fin­ish line, among the medals.

“I think sil­ver is still a beau­ti­ful colour to have,” Van Niekerk said.

“I’ve shown over and over my dom­i­nance as an ath­lete, I’ve worked hard to be where I am to­day, I’ve worked for what I’ve achieved.”

Van Niekerk came into the cham­pi­onships with the goal of be­com­ing the first man since Amer­i­can icon Michael John­son at Gothen­burg 1995 to win the 200-400m dou­ble.

Com­ing off the bend, Van Niekerk was neck- and- neck with Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev, who was the only sur­vivor from the 200m fi­nals at the 2015 World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing and the Rio Olympics.

Guliyev got his nose in front in a close tus­sle be­tween the two with the Azer­bai­jani-born sprinter dip­ping first at the line in 20.09 sec­onds

Post­ing iden­ti­cal times of 20.11, Van Niekerk was awarded the sil­ver on a photofin­ish, with Canada’s Jereem Richards round­ing off the podium in third.

His sec­ond medal se­cured South Africa its best ever medal haul at the cham­pi­onships of two gold, a sil­ver, and two bronze medals, with the pos­si­bil­ity of more to come

Long- jump duo Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Sa­maai opened the ac­count with gold and bronze re­spec­tively while Olympic 800m cham­pion Caster Se­menya claimed a dra­matic third-place in the 1 500m.

For now, at least, it seems like Van Niekerk will not at­tempt an­other 200- 400m dou­ble but would in­stead take a stab at im­prov­ing on his world record in the one lap sprint.

“If I have to re­fer to the 400m, I would love to have that as an in­di­vid­ual event... go for my world record again,” Van Niekerk said.

“The only dou­ble I would con­sider now is the 100m and 200m. I’d love to do the 100m and 200m next year at the Com­mon­wealth Games.”

‘I de­serve more re­spect’

WAYDE VAN NIEKERK:

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