Welcome back: Makwala stops, drops and sprints at worlds

Botswana's Isaac Makwala was cleared to run in the 200 meters by the IAAF which had previously barred him for medical reasons and he celebrated his reprieve by reaching the final.
Welcome back: Makwala stops, drops and sprints at worlds

Botswana's Isaac Makwala does press-ups on the track after finishing a 200-meter individual time trial during the world championships in London on Aug. 9, 2017. Makwala ran an individual time trial to qualify for the 200 semifinals after he missed the 200 heats and the 400 final as he was barred from competing for 48 hours while organizers tried to halt a norovirus outbreak.

Turns out, Isaac Makwala is healthy. Really healthy, in fact.

So healthy, that after getting called back to the stadium for a surprise command performance at the world championships on Wednesday, he ran two 200-meter sprints — the first all alone on the track — qualified for the final and even dropped to the ground and pumped out five pushups near the finish line.

Any more questions?

"I'm running with anger," Makwala said. "I have no point to prove because I know myself. I'm fit. I know I'm a great athlete. I believe in myself."

The Botswanan sprinter's plight became the cause celebre of the championships when he threw up before the start of the 200 preliminaries on Monday, was determined to be among the handful of athletes afflicted with the stomach flu and was barred from the stadium for 48 hours to lower the risk of infecting other runners.

All along, Makwala insisted he was not sick. One of his managers, Sander Ogink, said it was simply a case of nerves.

"As you probably know, athletes throw up when they're nervous," Ogink said.

But the IAAF held firm, and Makwala was scratched from both his 200 heat and the 400 final, where he could've been the main challenger on Tuesday to the eventual gold medalist, Wayde van Niekerk.

After further review, and another visit from the doctor, the IAAF determined that while it couldn't do anything about the 400 — Makwala showed up to the stadium for it on Tuesday but was turned away — it could try to right one wrong. He was asked back for Wednesday's action.

He opened the proceedings on a dreary, rain-drenched night by lining up in Lane 7 with nobody else on the track. His goal was to beat the slowest non-automatic qualifying time from the day before — 20.53 seconds — and after he crossed in 20.20, he dropped and gave 'em five, snapped off a salute to the crowd, then hustled off to get ready for the semifinals.

Back out in the rain two hours later for that race, Makwala finished second to earn his berth in Thursday's final.

His best race is the 400. His only chance now, though, will come in the 200.

"I'm still running with my heart broken," he said. "I was ready to run. I don't know who made the decision. Four-hundred meters is my reason for training."

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