CHALLENGING DAY FOR SA SPRINTERS – Day 6 Report
Day 6 only had 2 South Africans competing and expectations were high for both Akani Simbine and Wayde van Niekerk to advance through to the final. The biggest surprise of the day was when Isaac Makwala stepped onto the Queen Elizabeth Stadium to run in the 200m heat alone! Makwala who was unable to run in the 400m final because he was quarantined for illness was given the go ahead to run against the clock in a time trial. Makwala need to run a time of 20.53 of faster in a race against the clock, for a chance to run in the semi-finals 2 hours later.
Makwala being the main talk of the championships went out hard from the blocks on a cold and rainy evening. The determination in his face showed how badly he wanted to run in the final as he blasted past the line in 20.20 seconds with a packed stadium on their feet as they cheered him on. The celebration that followed was Makwala’s trademark push-up and his spot in the semi-final was booked to the relieve of Makwala and everyone watching this very unique 200m heat. Next up would be the semi-final where he would line-up against 100m finalist Akani Simbine.
Simbine had a day off to recover before attempting to qualify for the Final of the 200m but things did not go too well for the 100m specialist. Simbine failed to progress to the final after finishing 7th in his heat in a time of 20.62. Makwala on the other hand with popularity was growing as the night went on had a brilliant run to finish 2nd in 20.14 from lane 1 behind American Isaiah Young who was 1st in 20.12 to progress to the final
Van Niekerk running 4 days back-to-back after winning the 400m final the night before, stepped onto the track for his 5th consecutive day of competition. Van Niekerk manage to hold on for a tight and hard fought 3rd place on a cold, rainy and wet evening in a time of 20.28 missing out of automatic qualification but advanced as the fastest of non-automatic qualifiers. The 400m final seemed to have taken out a lot out of Van Niekerk’s legs, but rest before the final should see him ready and rejuvenated as his attempts to win the double which has only ever been done by legend Michael Johnson. When asked about running 5 days in a row Van Niekerk said: “The biggest challenge I’ve ever had.” Ameer Web finished ahead of Van Niekerk in 20.22 for 2nd behind impressive semi-final winner Ramil Guliyev in a time of 20.17.
Despite a slight scare Van Niekerk’s quest for double glory continues tonight at 22:50!
Written by Black Legend