Van Niekerk takes 400
Wayde van Niekerk didn’t even push through the line to win the 400 meters at the world championships in London on Tuesday. His toughest opponent, Isaac Makwala, was missing from the race. The Botswanan runner, who came down with a stomach virus, was kept out of the final because organizers wanted him in quarantine. Running just inside Makwala’s empty Lane 7, Van Niekerk kept up a sustained pace until easing at the finish. He still produced a sub 44-second time, winning in 43.98 seconds. Silver medalist Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas was .43 seconds behind and Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar finished in 44.48 for bronze. Before Van Niekerk’s race, Kenya continued its dominance in the steeplechase. Conseslus Kipruto got his nation another gold medal with an unmatchable kick over the final 300 meters, leaving him enough of a gap to celebrate exuberantly down the final stretch. Kipruto easily held off Soufiane El Bakkali to win in 8:14.12, .37 seconds ahead of the Moroccan. Stanley Kebenei (Arkansas Razorbacks) finished fifth. Evan Jager of the United States, who led much of the way, took bronze. The United States did get gold, though, when Sam Kendricks was the only man to scale 19 feet, 6 1/4 inches in the pole vault. Piotr Lisek of Poland took silver with a jump of 19-4, edging world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France on a countback. Pierre-Ambroise Bosse made up for French disappointment. He earned the upset of the evening when he took the lead with 200 meters to go in the 800 final and hung on for gold. Behind him, Adam Kszczot of Poland took silver, edging Kipyegon Bett of Kenya.