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Van Nierkerk beaten to 200m title

SHOCK: Wayde Van Niekerk

THESE WORLD Athletics Championships have been full of surprises and one of the most open. The men’s 200m final was no different as Ramil Guliyev of Turkey won in 20.09 seconds.

No one saw it coming as pundits and the media thought it would be a straight fight between Wayde Van Niekerk and Isaac Makwala. Guliyev who was born in Azerbaijan switched to Turkey said:

"This is not a shock but this does not feel real. I am so proud. This title means a lot.

"I have shown my best throughout this competition. I delivered my best race at the right time.  I'm so happy to be world champion. This is the best moment of my career. I was competing against some of the best athletes in the world, so it didn't bother me that the attention was on them. Maybe at the next competition everyone will look at me instead."

Van Niekerk who had to race six times in six days, found it a step too far, came second in 20.11secs. He said:

"It was really a massive rollercoaster for me, this competition. I didn't just celebrate the medal I got tonight, it was more a celebration of the competition overall.

Coming away with two medals - both a good colour, Gold and Silver, he added:

"I think it's great for my career and another moment to be grateful for. It's such a massive relief, this competition has been crazy with highs and lows, the previous two days have been difficult with the weather being so cold too."

Jareem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago took the Bronze, though he registered the same time as Van Niekerk. He said:

“I slipped coming out of my blocks and into my drive phase. I tried my best not to let it affect me too much. At the turn I wasn't in contention really, so to get a medal from there is a great achievement.

"I have been very relaxed amongst so many professional athletes, the greatest athletes of all time. So hopefully I will become one of those type of athletes over the next few years.

"This means a lot to me. I always wanted to bring a medal back home for my mum. I do everything for her, so I am so happy I can take her the Bronze. Words alone can't explain how grateful I am to be in this position and be lucky enough to perform here."

British sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake continued the unfortunate them of the home nation as he finished fourth in his first major final, thus missing out on a medal. He said:

"I knew it would be a tough one. No excuses at all. Lane 2 is never an ideal Lane but I put myself in that position. I tried to be really aggressive from the start, I had a great tracker with Wayde in front of me but it wasn’t enough today. All you can do is focus on yourself and all you can control is your individual performance. Nothing is perfect in the sport, all you can do is try and execute in the best way you can.

"Regardless of how I feel about the race, it wasn’t enough to get a medal. I don’t see my age as a barrier. I am 23, which is an age where I can get a medal so I am not putting my age as any excuse. I have been on the highest stage with an Olympics so this just wasn’t enough today. I need to learn from it, build on it and come back stronger.”

Isaac Makwala who had to run two races on the same day to qualify for the final, felt the pace and missed out on a medal after the 400m controversy. He said:

"I've had one of the craziest championship journeys ever. I don't think I will ever face this again. I will always pray to not face this again.

"When I got into the race I was feeling good, but the last 50m I was feeling tired. The lactic came. The 4x400m is next."

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