Angry Isaac Makwala runs solo heat, qualifies for 200m final (video)

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Medically cleared, Isaac Makwala qualified for the 200m final at the world championships on Wednesday after missing the 200m heats and the 400m final due to a stomach virus.

The IAAF let Makwala back in the 200m one day after a controversy erupted over the Botswanan’s exclusion from the 400m final, where he was the top challenger to eventual winner Wayde van Niekerk. Makwala is the top-ranked 200m man this year, having run 19.77 seconds on July 14.

“I’m still running with heart broken,” Makwala said on the BBC after running a pair of 200m races in a 2-hour, 20-minute span on a rainy Wednesday evening in London. “I wish IAAF would take decision for me to run my 400m [final] first [on Tuesday]. I was ready to run the 400m. … 400m is the race that I’m training for, 200m I do sometimes.

“I’m running with anger. I still want my 400m. That’s my race. 400m is my race. … I wish to thank the IAAF for giving me another chance [in the 200m].”

Makwala was allowed to re-run the 200m heats, so he had to do so alone. Makwala needed to clock 20.53 seconds and did so easily, recording 20.20 and then doing five push-ups immediately afterward, proving he’s fit.

That earned Makwala a spot in the semifinals later Wednesday night. Out of lane 1, he finished second in his semifinal in 20.14, raising his right arm convincingly while crossing the finish line. He’s into Thursday’s final.

So is Van Niekerk, who was the last qualifier into the eight-man final via finishing third in his heat in 20.28 seconds.

The stomach virus that hit a number of athletes at the earlier in the week morphed into a full-fledged mess a few hours before the 400m final, when video surfaced of Makwala being escorted away from the athletes’ entrance to the stadium in London.

“I thought that was the end of my life and end of my career,” Makwala, 30, told Lewis Johnson on NBCSN on Wednesday. “I wanted to fight, you know, but in the end I said, just let this go and maybe we’ll come back.”

Makwala insisted he felt fine. But he vomited Monday before the 200m heats, and the IAAF said doctors checked him, determined he had norovirus and, per the recommendation of health regulators in Britain, told him he had to stay off the premises for 48 hours.

“I came here for a medal,” a healthy looking Makwala said in an interview with the BBC. “Some people force you to withdraw. I’m OK to run, but someone’s saying you can’t run. It’s a bad thing.”

The IAAF put out its own statement defending the decision, saying it “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.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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