IAAF World Athletics Championships 2017: Wayde van Niekerk wishes he could give 400m gold to Isaac Makwala
South African runner Wayde van Niekerk said he felt disappointed when he learnt about Botswanan runner Issac Makwala's exclusion and that he wished he could give his gold medal to Makwala.
On a cold night in London, South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk eased past his opponents to defend his 400m title at the World Championships, storming to victory in just 43.98 seconds. Isaac Makwala, one of the contenders to win gold, was forced to withdraw from the race with the fear that his sickness would be passed on to other athletes. However, the South African runner says that he felt disappointed when he learnt about the Botswanan runner's exclusion and that he wished he could give his gold medal to Makwala.
“I really wish him a speedy recovery. On Monday, I saw him just before the 200m heats and the only thing I could think of was wrapping my arms around him and saying get well soon because I wouldn’t wish that on anyone," van Niekerk was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Van Niekerk barely celebrated his win and his expression remained unchanged despite winning the race well ahead of others. He retained his world title in dominant fashion but expressed his best wishes to arguably his toughest opponent in the event.
"It is such a massive pity. Obviously, there are a lot of fingers that are being pointed right now. I would allow him to have his fair opportunity. I wish he could have run. I wish I could give him my medal to be honest. But this is sport. We all have disappointments, we all have tough times – we just have to fight back even harder,” he added.
There is no doubt that it was a classy statement from Niekerk, who possibly understands Makwala’s angry outburst, and the fact that a first world title would have meant a lot for athletics in Botswana and for Makwala personally.
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