Wayde Van Niekerk takes 200m silver but feels ‘disrespected’ by Makwala
Wayde van Niekerk said he felt upset and disrespected by his rival Isaac Makwala who suggested he was part of a conspiracy that saw the Botswana athlete excluded from the 400m final.
The usually calm Van Niekerk was visibly tearful and angry, speaking after taking 200m silver behind the shock victor, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey. He dismissed Makwala’s assertion that athletics’ world governing body the IAAF had unfairly quarantined him with a sickness bug to pave the way for Van Niekerk to take 400m gold.
“It really did upset me a bit because I have always shown him massive respect and for him to mention my name in something fishy, as an IAAF favourite is unfair,” said Van Niekerk, “I’ve been putting out great performances for the last two years now so I think I deserve way more respect from my competitors. I want to compete and I’m not here to make friends, so I learned a great lesson, to focus on myself and not letting negative things affect me.”
Meanwhile, the newly crowned champion Guliyev was forced to defend Turkey’s record on doping. The 26-year-old, who switched allegiance to Turkey from Azerbaijan in 2011, completed a lap of honour draped in flags from both countries, taking gold in 20.09sec. There are legitimate questions about his adopted country’s record on doping with four of the nine Turkish track and field finalists at London 2012 banned for doping either before or subsequently.
In a newspaper interview last week, Paula Radcliffe called for drastic action to be taken. She said: “When you look at those [cheats] from 2012, then 80% of those come from four countries: Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Belarus. But only one of those countries has been banned. That has to go further.”
Defenders of Guliyev would point out he ran 20.04 to win the European Junior Championships in 2009 while still running for Azerbaijan and his best time as a youth athlete of 19.93 has been bettered only by Usain Bolt.
“Every athlete is choosing their own way,” he said, “nobody is pushing anyone to do anything the right way or the wrong way, you are responsible for your own actions.”