HE’S become the story of the championships, the Botswana runner who’s beaten a virus, a temporary IAAF ban and red-tape to make the 200m final.
Isaac Makwala was banned from running in the 400m final because he was staying in a team hotel where an outbreak of the norovirus occurred.
He’d claimed he was no longer sick and even turned up the stadium before the final, only to be denied entry.
Thursday he got a last-minute chance to race again by being granted a solo time trial to see if he could qualify for the 200m semi-finals.
With the rain pouring down, Makwala ran on his own in lane seven and comfortably went under the targeted time of 20.53 sec, clocking 20.20 sec much to the delight of the crowd who’d cheered his every move.
Two hours later he was back for the first semi-final, running from lane one and finishing second to qualify for the final.
Makwala raised his arm to the sky as he crossed the line in celebration, clocking 20.14 sec to make him the third fastest qualifier.
“I put everything on God after what happened yesterday,” he said. “I’m still running with my heart broken.
“I wish the IAAF had given me the decision to run the 400m first. I was ready to run. I don’t know who made the decision. 400m is my reason for training.
“I’m running with anger. 400m is my race. But thanks to the crowd, they were amazing.”
More than 30 athletes and staff from a number of countries have been impacted by the virus at the Tower Hotel in London.
The IAAF ruled that Makwala’s “quarantine period” had ended which is why they left the door open for him to qualify for the 200m.
His case was helped by the intervention of IAAF president Sebastian Coe who had “massive sympathy” for the Botswana runner.
“No one from the IAAF is showing a lack of empathy with Isaac, far from it in fact,” Coe said.
“We have massive empathy for him as he worked so hard to get here. I know this from personal experience.
“In 1986 I was sent home from competing at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh with some other athletes because of a bronchial infection.”
The 400m champion looked in trouble over the final 20m and had to push to the line, clocking 20.28 sec to sneak into the final as one of the two fastest losers.
Van Niekerk is attempting to win the 400m/200m double which hasn’t been done at a world championships since the great Michael Johnson in Gothenburg in 1995.
“I knew it would be a tough challenge,” he said “To see my name in the final is a real pleasure. I’ve got time to recover now and give it my all in the final.”
There was a major boilover in the women’s 400m final with reigning Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo mysteriously stumbling over the final stages of the race to throw away a certain gold medal.
Miller-Uibo, from the Bahamas, was in total control until she lost stride with about 20 metres remaining which opened the door for American Phyllis Francis (49.92sec) to claim a surprise victory from Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser (50.06sec).
Reigning world champion Allyson Felix also had a strange race, going out hard over the first 200m before struggling late into third place (50.08sec)