Makwala, Bowie both have to withdraw at worlds

LONDON (AP) — Two medal favorites had to withdraw from their events at the world championships on Tuesday, with Isaac Makwala forced out of the 400-meter final because of a stomach virus and Tori Bowie out of the 200 heats because of injury.

Makwala was expected to be the main challenger to Wayde van Niekerk in both the 200 and 400 but the runner from Botswana pulled out of the 200-meter heats on Monday because of a stomach bug.

Although he posted on Facebook that he was feeling fine early Tuesday, the IAAF announced that its medical official was keeping him out of the race.

Nine people at the world championships were still being affected by a virus that hit athletes and staff staying at one of the official hotels.

Makwala’s no-show was a tough hit for the 400 final, which was expected to be one of the highlights of the championships.

Bowie pulling out of the 200 was also a surprise, since she had been warming up for her race.

The lunge at the line which helped Bowie win gold in the 100 meters on Sunday left her hurting. Pulling out was also a precaution to get ready for the 4×100 relay this weekend.

“Tori Bowie has withdrawn from the 200 meters as she continues to recover from her fall at the conclusion of the women’s 100-meter final Sunday evening,” the U.S. track federation said in a statement. “Her condition will continue to be evaluated to assess her readiness for the 4×100 relay.”

Instead, defending champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands set the early standard in the 200 heats, jogging across the line and still winning in the best qualifying time of 22.63 seconds.

Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica is not competing in the 200 this week, but Olympic 400 champion Shaunae Miller-Oibo of the Bahamas is. She won her heat in 22.69, the second fastest time on a chilly night at the Olympic Stadium.

Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic won the first gold medal of the night in the javelin a decade after her last world title.

The 36-year-old two-time Olympic champion won gold at the 2012 London Games and then took a break from competition to become a mother. Now she is back with another gold after a winning throw of 66.76 meters.

Li Lingwei took silver with a toss of 66.25 meters, while Chinese teammate Lyu Huihui got bronze with a throw of 65.26.

Olympic champion Sara Kolak of Croatia was fourth at 64.95.