Wayde Van Niekerk cruises to 400m victory in the absence of Isaac Makwala

Drama had already compounded the event hours before the finalists even lined up.

Wayde Van Niekerk cruises to 400m victory in the absence of Isaac Makwala
Van Niekerk eases to victory with an empty lane to his right (photo: Getty Images/Richard Heathcote)

Wayde Van Niekerk confirmed his dominance of 400m running but an incredible story unfolded even before he glided to another gold medal.

Makwala refused entry to the London Stadium in a dramatic turn of events

Headlines had already been made several hours before the athletes took to the track for the final. Billed as the battle for gold between Isaac Makwala and Van Niekerk, the former was ruled out "due to a medical condition".

Botswana's Makwala had initially pulled out of the 200m heats on Monday before it was revealed a norovirus had affected the health of 30 athletes and staff. Makwala has been one of those struck down but he claimed "I could have run. I did my warm up well and I was ready to run."

Yet the IAAF made the decision to pull Makwala from the final as they looked to contain the epidemic. Despite that announcement, Makwala attempted to enter the London Stadium in a dramatic turn of events but he was refused entry by the authorities. The IAAF utilised Public Health England's advice that "anyone who has been vomiting or had diarrhoea must remain isolated for 48 hours" in their response.

Gardiner and Allen look to challenge

It meant that defending champion and Olympic gold medalist Van Niekerk took his place as the outstanding candidate for gold. With a personal best over half second faster than his closest rival Fred Kerley and the American only struggling through the semi-finals as a fastest loser, the global crown looked nailed on again for Van Niekerk.

Yet the South African would have been wary of the Caribbean duo of Steven Gardiner and Nathon Allen, both of whom recorded personal bests in the semi-finals. Gardiner clocked an impressive 43.89 seconds in a National Record time for the Bahamas

Van Niekerk eases to victory

With Makwala missing at his side, Van Niekerk gained a slight early advantage along the back straight, whilst Kerley made up ground on the inside. Yet the Olympic champion and World record holder cruised into a mammoth lead off the final bend as his opponents simply could not cope with the sheer pace.

With eyes on the clock rather than his challenges, the current King of 400m running began to tie up on the final straight as a World record time started to disintegrate. He cruised across the line as if it was a comfortable heat whilst several competitors battled it out for the last two medals.

Gardiner eased into the silver medal position but a surprise came with Qatar's Abdalelah Haroun holding off Baboloki Thebe compatriot of Makwala, to steal bronze with a season's best run. Haroun had been last going into the home straight but managed to hold his form to pass the rest of the field and finish third.

Attention for Van Niekerk now turns to the 200m as he looks to complete a double gold across the two disciplines.

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