Wayde van Niekerk dominated the 400m final at the IAAF World Championships, winning gold in a time of 43.98.
With an empty lane outside him Van Niekerk was off like a rocket. And for the final stretch, broke free, miles ahead of his competitors. In fact, Van Niekerk was so far ahead that he almost looked like he was slowing down over the final 20 meters or so.
Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa as expected wins the men’s 400 meters in grand style https://t.co/wmuU88MlqB
— AFRICAN SPORTS MONTH (@ASMONTHLY) August 8, 2017
And that’s all that Van Niekerk needed to do. His aim at these World Championships is to do the double in the 200m and 400m, and that’s one box ticked.
He headed into the world championships with the world-leading time in the one lap and, as the world record holder, was a favourite for the gold medal. He did not disappoint. And if there was any doubt over Van Niekerk being one of the greatest athletes South Africa – and indeed the world – has ever seen, that debate should start to settle.
And if there was any doubt over Van Niekerk being one of the greatest athletes South Africa – and indeed the world – has ever seen, that debate should start to settle.
And even if his time at the world championships was slightly slower than some of his personal bests, there was no need to go all guns blazing when he was just so far ahead of everyone else.
But one has to wonder how much different the race – and maybe even the result – would have been had Van Niekerk’s biggest rival for the 400m crown, Isaac Makwala, been allowed to race.
Makwala, was ruled out of the race in bizarre circumstances on Tuesday night. He was due to double up in the 400m and 200m like Van Niekerk, but having already missed the heats in the latter, will not be able square off against his South African counterpart in the half lap race.
A great shame at a time where athletics is desperate for a showman and rivalries following Usain Bolt’s retirement.