Makwala Qualifies For 400m Final To Set Up Kirani Duel
Botswana’s sprinter Isaac Makwala qualified to the Men’s 400m final after finishing third in his semi-final heat in 44:59 and set up a clash with this season’s second fastest man over the distance, James Kirani of Grenada.
Kirani won the first semi in a season best time of 43.88 showing his intent to add another Olympic Gold in his cabinet, following his triumph in 2012 in London.
Botswana’s other representative Luengo Sotch finished 5th in the second semi won by American Michael Cherry and failed to make the cut to the final with only the top two finishers and best two losers making it into the finale.
Makwala,36, who has three among the top ten world leads this year will hope to exert some revenge on Kirana who beat him severally in Grand Prix.
Having sat in the middle of the pack in the opening 100m of his heat, Makwala bolted into the front but failed to maintain the same at the final bed.
Makwala is the only African in the final as defending champion Wayde van Niekerk faded on the homestretch of a loaded semi-final three, finishing 5th in 45.14.
Van Niekerk had come to Tokyo as the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder after that unforgettable 43.03sec effort in Rio some five years ago.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed with the run,” he said in the immediate aftermath. “I expected more from myself, but it didn’t work out how I’d like it to have worked. But is what it is and we move forward.”
Photo Credit:Monirul Bhuiyan/PRESS PHOTO)