South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men's 400m final
South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men's 400m final David J. Phillip

Usain Bolt heir apparent makes good on gold

EVERYONE wants him to be the next Bolt and Wayde van Niekerk is at least following a crucial part of that script . . . winning gold medals.

Since breaking the 400m record at last year's Rio Olympics, the South African has been anointed as the man most likely to take over the mantle from the retiring Usain Bolt as the next big thing of track and field.

Van Niekerk's second world title was never in doubt and he actually even eased down on the line to claim gold in 43.98sec.

Steven Gardiner, of The Bahamas, took silver (44.41sec) with Qatar's Abdalelah Haroun bronze (44.48sec).

Van Niekerk is attempting to win the 400m/200m double which hasn't been done at a world championships since American legend Michael Johnson in Gothenberg in 1995.

In fact, no-one has come close and the 25-year-old was already thinking about the shorter event after capturing the one-lap title.


South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk celebrates winning the gold medal in the Men's 400m final during the World Athletics Championships in London Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Van Niekerk celebrates winning the gold David J. Phillip

"It is amazing to win the world title," Van Niekerk said. "It is a blessing. I hope the fans enjoyed that.

"I'm used to the lactic (acid in legs) but I need a few minutes to recover from that effort and I'll be fine.

"I've got a good team who will help me recover well for the 200m and I'm looking forward to that."

The final of the men's 200m is on Thursday night.

There was some controversy in the lead-up to the 400m final with van Niekerk's main rival, Botswana's Isaac Makwala, not allowed to run after contracting a virus.

Makwala, who was pulled out of the 200m heats on Monday because of the illness, insisted he was fit to compete but the 30-year-old was withdrawn by the IAAF "due to a medical condition"

More than 30 athletes and support staff had been affected by sickness at the Tower Hotel in London.

Makwala turned up at the stadium before the 400m final but was ordered to leave by IAAF officials.

Johnson, who is commentating on the championships for the BBC, was disappointed with the decision to ban Makwala.

"The elephant in the room is that Wayde van Niekerk is an IAAF favourite, a fan favourite, he's a favourite of everyone," he said.

"He's the world record holder, champion, the Olympic champion and now the only person, that was his challenger - Isaac Makwala, who was going to double as well - who has fastest time in the world this year, 19.74 for 200m and the second-fastest time in the world this year for 400m.

"And now he has been pulled out of both these races. Conspiracy theories are going round."

With Olympic champion David Rudisha missing because of injury, Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse claimed the 800m world title.

Bosse clocked 1min44.67sec to hold off Poland's Adam Kszczot (1:44.95sec) and Kenya's Kipyegon Bett (1:45.21sec)

And there was no-one more surprised with the victory than Bosse.

"It felt like a nightmare as I was getting chased," Bosse said. "It was a never ending nightmare. I could not understand why nobody was going past me. Even when I crossed the line I could not believe it.

"The others killed themselves and they were already dead in the last 100m. I was like a witch casting a spell on them.

"Finally today I was ahead of everyone. People can forgive me now because I now have that world title."

In the men's 3000m steeplechase Kenya's reigning Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto took over in the final lap and then started celebrating 10 metres before the line to claim the world title.

The 22-year-old had all the answers, winning in 8min14.12sec from Morocco's Soufiane Elbakkali (8:14.49sec) with American Evan Jager getting bronze (8:15.53sec).