Makwala left puzzled after 200m withdrawal in London

By Bakang Mhaladi

GABORONE – Botswana’s former 400m African champion, Isaac Makwala said he felt fine and was ready to compete in the 200m when he was surprisingly withdrawn from the race due to food poisoning.   

Makwala who has been in fine form this season, said he was told that he could not run his 200m heat although no tests were conducted to determine his illness.

“I am surprised because I felt fine but some officials told me that I was suffering from food poisoning and therefore could not run. Even now (Tuesday before the 400m final) I am feeling ok, there is nothing wrong with me,” he said from London.

The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) had earlier on Tuesday issued a statement reiterating what the organisers had said just after Makwala was withdrawn from the race.

Makwala was seen warming up, but moments later, his lane was empty when the race got underway with speculation that he had deliberately opted out of the 200m to channel his energy towards the 400m.

But it emerged that Makwala was keen on running the 200m as well, after his recent stunning double in Madrid, Spain.

“On behalf of the BAA, we confirm that Isaac Makwala did not take part in the 200m heats on August 7, 2017, due to ill health. According to reports from team management in London, the IAAF medical team has confirmed an outbreak of some virus, which has affected about 25 athletes in camp,” reads the BAA press statement.

Botswana 400m runner, Onkabetse Nkobolo and Makwala reportedly had symptoms of the virus. Makwala confirmed he had vomited in the build-up to the 200m heats but was quick to emphasize that “it was normal with almost every athlete.”

Makwala’s ‘illness’ put doubts on his participation in the 400m finals, where a showdown with world champion, Wayde van Niekerk was looming.

The IAAF said it was doing its all to investigate the outbreak of the virus. Meanwhile, Botswana made a strong start at the World Championships with three of the four male athletes progressing to the finals.

Makwala, Baboloki Thebe and Nijel Amos were comfortable as they cruised to the 400m and 800m finals, respectively.

However, there was no joy for Botswana’s female athletes as former world champion, Amantle Montsho, Lydia Jele and Christine Botlogetswe crushed out before reaching the 400m finals.

August 2017
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