He got a big cheer did Isaac Makwala when he came out for the 200m final. The 30-year old from Botswana couldn’t compete in the 400m because he had a rather bad case of the runs after falling victim to the norovirus bug that swept through one team hotel. Norovirus is a nasty little thing that leaves victims vomiting and with diarrhoea. It can be spread if people don’t wash their hands properly before handling food or touch objects and surfaces that you then touch. Certain elements said that Makwala could have taken part but he was prevented from doing so because the IAAF – the organisers of the championships – really wanted Wayde van Niekerk to win so that it could help their projection of athletics once Usain Bolt had retired. With the whiff of conspiracies and a PR disaster in the offing, Makwala did a 200m qualifying race on his own early on day six and he got through that. Makwala breezed through the 200m semis later that day. But the final was all too much for him and he could only manage sixth place. He said he came for the 400m.
Blades van Kneejerk
After his failure to complete a 200/400m golden double, there’s was some tough talking from the normally mild mannered South African Wayde van Niekerk. With his folksy backstory of a grandmother as coach, he has dominated the 400m since claiming his first world title in the 400m in Beijing in 2015. He followed that success up last year at the Olympics with a world record on his way to gold over the distance. But people, including a once vomiting athlete from Botswana, have been dissin’ him. So the one lap grandmaster flashed back. “I’ve shown each and every competitor respect, including Makwala. I’ve always shown him massive respect and for him to come out and mention my name among something fishy happening in the IAAF and pointing me out as a favourite when he knows how hard I’ve been working over the last few years is disappointing.
“If I was an overnight success and if I had just won my first gold medal I could have accepted a statement like that. But I’ve been putting out great performances for the last two years including in this competition.
Blades added: “I think I definitely deserve way more respect from my competitors. But this is competition. We’re not here to make friends. We’re here to compete. I’ve learned a lesson. I’ll be taking the future a bit differently.” So no handshakes with Makwala then.
We have a comeback queen
On day six Shaunae Miller-Uibo led the women’s 400m final going into the final 30 metres but she pulled up and was passed by Phyllis Francis, Salwa Eid Naser and Allyson Felix. Miller-Uibo, who won the Olympic title over the distance last summer, looked spent. But the plucky lass was back on day seven to run in the 200m and she fair flew into the final on day eight with a time of 22.49 seconds.
Triple jump tension
As expected the Americans Christian Taylor and Will Claye duked it out for the triple jump. Taylor is 27 and has the 2012 and 2016 Olympic crowns in his collection as well as world championship golds from Daegu in 2011 and Beijing in 2015. He jumped 17.57 on his second attempt to take the lead from Claye who retaliated by jumping 17.63 to regain the ascendance with his third attempt. Oh no you don’t said 27-year-old Taylor who promptly produced a leap of 17.68. The two keep on doing this and Taylor, for the moment, keeps on coming out on top. “It’s not a talent thing,” reflected Claye. “I feel that talent wise we’re about the same. It’s just about me executing the right jump at the right time.” The 2012 and 2016 Olympic silver medallist added: “It’s all about the day. Hopefully next time I’ll come out on top. It is something I’ve just to keep working at.”
Big cheers for the local boy
Christian Taylor received huge support from the crowd during his jumps. Why? Well, he is the top man in the discipline and in the absence of any home grown medal prospects, the fans have adopted him. It has everything to do with Taylor’s decision to live in England while his coach, Rana Reider, worked with British Athletics in 2012 at the High Performance Athletics Centre at Loughborough University in central England. Taylor said he has fond memories of the town and going around on his skateboard. “It’s definitely an advantage having spent some time in England,” he added. “I got the title of honorary Brit and for that I’m very grateful.” Taylor admitted the biggest challenge of his life in Britain was the cooler weather. Nothing like the sun drenched climes of back home in Gainesville, Florida. After the rain lashed proceedings on day six, it’s easy to see why people leave.