Wayde Van Niekerk’s prospects of securing a 200/400m double here are looking even better after the 200m first round heats - while the world and Olympic 400m champion won easily, his big rival Isaac Makwala of Botswana, who also qualified for tomorrow night’s 400m final, abandoned his own original ambition of seeking a 200/400, scratching from his heat (see official statement below).
As expected, Van Niekerk, in lane seven, was victorious, clocking 20.16 without overextending himself. But, unexpectedly, he had the close company in his outside lane of Britain’s Danny Talbot, who also clocked a personal best 20.16, finishing only one thousandth of a second behind the world and Olympic 400m champion (20.158 to 20.159).
The South African had a good look at the man striving for the line to his right, and exchanged a friendly word and hug after the line as the roars of the stadium, no doubt for both of them, reverberated.
Talbot has said he is dedicating his performances at these Championships to his friend and erstwhile team-mate James Ellington, who is still recovering from serious injuries incurred in a motorbike accident while on a training trip to Tenerife in January.
Trinidad and Tobago’s 23-year-old Jereem Richards served notice of his ambitions as he powered home in lane two to win the second heat in 20.05, the fastest qualifying time, with Kyree King of the United States a distant second in 20.41 and Jamaica’s Rasheed Dwyer taking third place in 20.49.
The next fastest time emerged from the seventh and final heat as Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake raised the noise levels in finishing second by a thousandth of a second to Canada’s Aaron Brown, with both men recording 20.08 – only for Brown to be subsequently disqualified. South Africa’s third-placed Clarence Munyai was also disqualified, both for running outside of their lanes.
Ramil Guliyev of Turkey also looked impressive as he won his heat in 20.16 ahead of the US champion Ameer Webb, who clocked 20.22, and France’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist Christophe Lemaitre, who has had a season undermined by injury but progressed here with a time.
Webb’s US teammate Isiah Young won his heat in 20.19 ahead of South Africa’s 100m finalist Akani Simbine, who clocked 20.26, and Likourgos-Stefanos Tsakonas, who recorded 20.37. Britain’s Zharnel Hughes was fourth in 20.43 but did enough to claim one of the three non-automatic places along with Wilfried Koffi Hua of Cote d’Ivoire, who ran 20.49, and David Lima of Portugal, who clocked 20.54.
A good bend allowed Yohan Blake – who won the world 100m title six years ago after his Jamaican team-mate Usain Bolt had been disqualified - to ease down on the straight before winning the opening heat in 20.39.
Japan’s 18-year-old Abdul Hakim Sani Brown followed Blake home in 20.52, with the third automatic qualifying place going to Switzerland’s Alex Wilson in 20.54.
Zambia’s Sydney Siame produced a national record of 20.29 to win his heat ahead of Klye Greaux of Trinidad and Tobago, with Filippo Tortu of Italy taking the third qualifying place in 20.59 ahead of Jamaica’s 2013 world silver medallist Warren Weir, who failed to progress after clocking 20.60. It’s not been a great Championship so far for Jamaican sprinters.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF
Statement re: Makwala’s withdrawal
7 August 2017
Medical Withdrawal - Isaac Makwala (BOT)
Isaac Makwala (BOT) was withdrawn from the men’s 200m (1st Round) due to a medical condition on the instruction of the IAAF Medical Delegate (Rule 113).
Any further questions should be referred to the BOT team as at this stage we have no further information.