Monday 25 September 2017

'It really did upset me a bit' - Wayde van Niekerk upset with Isaac Makwala's 'quarantine' claims

Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa reacts as he crosses the line in the mens 200 metres final during day seven of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 10, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa reacts as he crosses the line in the mens 200 metres final during day seven of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 10, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Nick Mashiter

South Africa sprinter Wayde van Niekerk dismissed suggestions the controversy around rival Isaac Makwala affected him after missing out on the 200 metres title at the World Championships.

The 25-year-old was beaten by Turkey's Ramil Guliyev at the London Stadium on Thursday.

He was aiming to become the first sprinter since Michael Johnson in 1995 to win the 400m and 200m in the same championships after claiming the 400m title on Tuesday.

The race had been overshadowed after Botswana's Makwala - denied entry to the London Stadium for Tuesday's 400m final - had claimed the IAAF had unfairly quarantined him to give Van Niekerk a clearer path to the 400m title as they tried to contain a norovirus outbreak.

Van Niekerk, who broke down in tears during a post-race interview with the BBC, was unhappy with Makwala but insisted it did not upset his preparations.

"I wouldn't say it affected me, I just expected more from someone I've been competing against," said Van Niekerk, who ran 20.11 seconds.

"It really did upset me a bit. I've always shown him massive respect and for him to come out and mention my name among something fishy with the IAAF and pointing me out as some kind of favourite, knowing how hard I've been working in the last few years.

"If I was an overnight success and it was my first gold medal I could accept a statement like that but I've been putting out great performances in the last two years now.

"I definitely deserve way more respect from my competitors. But this is a competition and an area where we want to be the best. We're not here to make friends."

Earlier in the evening, Laura Muir qualified as a fastest loser for Saturday's 5,000m final and collapsed in exhaustion on the track after the race.

The 24-year-old finished fourth in the 1500m earlier in the week and had played down her chances in the longer distance as Great Britain continue their search for a second medal.

Lorraine Ugen could end that week-long drought in the long jump on Friday while Dina Asher-Smith is in contention in the 200m final, after recovering from a broken foot she suffered in February.

She said: "Those girls aren't running at full capacity at all so we're going to see what happens.

"It's been really hard, physically and mentally, because you keep telling yourself that you're going to get better but maybe you're not seeing the results immediately.

"You just have to keep that belief that you will be fine, and even though the odds are very much stacked against you, you can do it."

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