Wayde van Niekerk is track and field's next big star.

By Chris Chavez
August 08, 2017

Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa won the men's 400 meter final in 43.98 seconds while slowing up before the finish line at the IAAF World Championships in London on Tuesday night. Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas took silver in 44.41. Qatar's Abdalelah Haroun settled for bronze in 44.48.

Van Niekerk now owns gold medals from the 2015 and 2017 world championships as well as the 2016 Olympics, where he set a world record of 43.03 out of lane eight in the final. He is the first back-to-back world championship gold medalist since USA's Jeremy Wariner won in 2005 and 2007. At just 25 years old, the possibility is there for van Niekerk to one day match Michael Johnson's four world championship gold medals.

In addition to breaking Johnson's world record in the 400 in Rio de Janeiro, van Niekerk beat Johnsons' world best in the 300 meters in June with a 30.81-second performance in Ostrava.

The men's 400 meter final was missing one key competitor as Botswana's Isaac Makwala was forced to scratch out of the 200-meter heats and the 400 meter final due to food poisoning. Makwala was certainly a candidate for a medal after pushing van Niekerk to the finish line with a 43.84 runner-up finish to the South African at the Monaco Diamond League. A number of other athletes reported cases of gastroenteritis at one of the official hotels.

Makwala said he was feeling well enough to run but the decision to scratch was made on the instruction of the IAAF's medical delegate. He showed up to the stadium but was barred from entering the stadium. As per UK health regulations, it was requested that he be quarantined in his room for 48 hours.

The IAAF issued the following statement regarding his absence:

"These procedures are recommended by Public Health England and were clearly explained to the teams in writing on Sunday (6 Aug) and in person to the Botswanan delegation, a member of which was present with many other representatives of teams at a meeting that took place at the Guoman Tower Hotel on Sunday.

The decision to withdraw him from the 200m heats last night and the 400m final today was made on the basis of a medical examination conducted in the warm-up medical centre by a qualified doctor on Monday (7 Aug) and recorded in the electronic medical record system of the championships. A copy of this medical record was given to a member of the BOT team medical staff following the examination.

The team doctor, team leader and team physio had been informed following the medical examination that the athlete should be quarantined for 48 hours and would therefore be missing the 400m final on Tuesday.

The IAAF is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes."

The lone American in the final was NCAA record holder Fred Kerley but he finished last in 45.23.

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