Wayde van Niekerk retained his 400m world crown in London on Tuesday night and then said he believed he could add the 200m title to bag a rare world championship double.
“It’s easier said than done‚” Van Niekerk said of his prospects of joining American legend Michael Johnson as the only people to have landed the 400m and 200m at the global showpiece.
“This competition is very unpredictable‚ but I know I’ve got the abilities‚” said Van Niekerk‚ who goes up against American champion Ameer Webb and Turkish flyer Ramil Guliyev in the third semifinal on Wednesday night.
Teammate Akani Simbine is in the first semifinal‚ with the final set for Thursday.
“My body still feels very good. The recovery process after tonight was a bit difficult‚ it took me a while to recover … recovery tonight is very‚ very important for tomorrow’s semifinal because it’s going to go straight from endurance to speed tomorrow.”
Van Niekerk — who slowed dramatically late in the 400m final to save energy for the 200m — gushed about the shorter race at the post-final press conference on Tuesday night.
“Now that the 400 is gone‚ I love the 200‚ I love it so much‚” said Van Niekerk‚ who ran the 200m heats on Monday night.
“I got over the finish line with a smile. I could go through the mixed zone interacting with the media … and I even had a nice jog back to the warm-up area‚ so I’m very excited.
“I just hope I can get some good rest tonight and the body still feels good tomorrow‚” he said.
“The 400m was comfortable‚ but obviously we all know the pain that comes with it once we cross the finish line.
“I’m very excited for the 200m. The body just needs to be ready and I’ll give it my best shot.”
Van Niekerk said the cold conditions had affected his 400m at the London stadium‚ where he won in 43.98sec‚ comfortably ahead of Steve Gardiner of Bahamas (44.41) and Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar (44.48).
“It was quite freezing‚” he said. “I struggled to get myself warmed up and ready.
“I think for about 200m I was doubting my momentum and I think the last 150m I tried putting in an extra gear but I just couldn’t catch my stride.
“[Over] the last few metres I … looked up to the screen and I noticed how far ahead I was.
“Immediately I thought of my health and realising I still have two more rounds to run and I thought if the times aren’t going to come there’s no use for me to push it all the way to my limits.”
Kenyan Kalalei triumphs in Athens Marathon
Samuel Kalalei won the 35th Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday as Kenyan runners dominated the grueling, largely uphill course by sweeping the top five places in the men’s race.
The 23-year-old crossed the line in two hours, 12 minutes and 17 seconds, ahead of Milton Kiplagat Rotich, who clocked 2:14.18, with Jonathan Kiptoo Yego in third at 2:16.08.
The women’s race was won by 18-year-old Ethiopian Bedaru Hirpa Badane in a time of 2:34.18.
Around 18,500 runners from dozens of countries took part in the authentic marathon which began near the tumulus erected for the Greek dead from the Battle of Marathon.
Another 30,000 participated in the shorter 5km and 10km races in downtown Athens.
According to legend, the 42km route from Marathon to Athens was first run by Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger who in 490 BC dashed to the city to announce victory over the Persians, before dying of exhaustion.
Run on a four-lane concrete avenue through the urban districts of east Athens with a finish at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the 1896 Olympics, the race is a challenge for runners as much of it is uphill.
Moroccan born European 5000m champion arrested in doping raid
Reigning European 5000m champion Ilias Fifa was arrested in Barcelona on Wednesday as part of a doping probe, sources of the investigation confirmed.
Fifa, born in Morocco but who has represented Spain since 2015, was arrested at his home on Wednesday morning in Santa Coloma de Gramenet on the outskirts of the Catalan capital.
The 28-year-old is just one of a number of arrests being carried out in operations « for crimes against public health and the use of medications with great danger to health » said a statement from the Catalan High Court of Justice.
The Court also confirmed the operation carried out on Wednesday began with a police investigation back in June.
Fifa took advantage of Mo Farah’s absence to claim European gold at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam.
That had been the crowning glory in an inspiring rise to fame as Fifa arrived in Spain 11 years ago as an immigrant hiding in a truck.
Rooney ponders switch to 800m
Martyn Rooney is the first to admit his 2017 has hardly been a year to remember but big changes could be on the horizon as he ponders a switch to the 800m.
The two-time European 400m champion anchored Great Britain to 4x400m bronze at the World Championships in London this summer, yet has struggled with his performances in the individual event.
He finished sixth in his heat in the capital with a third-place finish in Brussels, his best performance on the Diamond League circuit.
But the 30-year-old insists that he desperately needs a motivational spark and that could come in doubling his distance on the track – a move recommended to him by Lord Seb Coe.
Yet Rooney is under no illusions as to the challenges that await if he is to switch, knowing only too well he can’t take anything for granted at this stage of his career.
« I have to find some new goals and find something that is going to excite me, » he said.
« Seb Coe says I need to go and run an 800m, so we’ll see what the winter brings.
« A change is as good as a rest and there are some great 800m coaches in Loughborough, so it would be great to jump into a couple of sessions and see how it goes.
« It’s not been a great year – in fact it’s been an awful year – but it’s a year when I asked for two things: a healthy baby [his daughter Ciada was born in August] and a world medal.
« I got both. I got the things I wanted, so I can’t be greedy. It’s my 11th year on the circuit and sometimes, you are going to have a bad year. »
While the athletics world is turning its attentions to next year’s Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, Rooney faces the possibility of remaining on British shores after not reaching the qualifying standard.
But an opportunity could arise if selectors decide to send a relay squad Down Under, with Rooney even offering to pay his own way.
« The Commonwealth Games is completely out of my control, » he said.
« I haven’t hit the standard and they don’t know if they are going to take a relay team because of the cost.
« I’ve said I’ll pay for my flights. I don’t mind doing it but it’s up to the selectors and whether they want to take a team or not.
« My senior individual debut was in Melbourne, so it would be nice to go back and have another go.
« With a good winter behind me, you never know what could happen. »
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