Lashawn Merritt celebrates after winning the 400m at a IAAF Diamond League event in 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Lashawn Merritt celebrates after winning the 400m at a IAAF Diamond League event in 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Isaac Makwala reacts after competing in the 200m heats at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Isaac Makwala reacts after competing in the 200m heats at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

LONDON - Double the trouble and twice the workload is what awaits South African sprint king Wayde van Niekerk when launches his golden 200/400m campaign at the IAAF World Championships in London over the weekend.

It is one thing to make your intentions clear and quite another to produce the goods against the best in the world.

Attempting to become the first man since American icon Michael Johnson at Gothenburg in 1995 to win the 200/400m double, Van Niekerk will have his work cut out.

Starting on Saturday, he will back in the blocks in the one-lap sprint against old and new young Turks. He will have to navigate past the semi-finals on Sunday before the moment of truth on Tuesday evening.

He goes up against former world champion LaShawn Merritt of the US, who finished behind Van Niekerk in both the World Championship and Rio Olympics finals.

Merritt is no stranger to the cruel twists of track and field with the veteran posting sub-44sec times without winning.

“When I came into the sport I faced people who were dominant, Jeremy Wariner, I had a run myself, Kirani James, so it is nothing new for me,” Merritt said.

“People will come into this event and run well, and the best you can do is to keep working hard, and continue to lay it out on the track every time you step out there.

“It is nothing new to me, I’ve been doing this for the last 13 years, it is not my first World Championships where I haven’t raced in a while.”

The biggest threat to Van Niekerk’s double could come from fellow southern African Isaac Makwala of Botswana, who will also be lining up in the 200 and 400m.

Makwala boasts the third fastest time in the world this year behind Van Niekerk with the 43.84 he posted at the Monaco Diamond League meeting, where he finished second to the South African.

The Botswana athlete in turn holds the world lead in the 200m with the personal best 19.77 he clocked in Madrid last month.

SA 100m record holder Akani Simbine, who has the fifth fastest time this year of 19.95sec, will also fancy his chances of reaching the final and challenging for a podium place.

The Star

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