Wayde van Niekerk lamented his top rival not being there to push him all the way as he cruised to 400m gold at the World Championship in London.
The South African admitted his disappointment at being controversially denied a showdown with Isaac Makwala, who was declared too sick by the IAAF.
Van Niekerk defended his title in 43.98 seconds, with Steven Gardiner and Abdalelah Haroun well back for silver and bronze on Tuesday night.
But he did not face Botswana’s Makwala after he was denied entry to the London Stadium despite insisting he was fit after an outbreak of the norovirus bug.
The 30-year-old, who was also pulled out of the 200m heats on Monday, was withdrawn by organisers the IAAF “due to a medical condition” while Botswana insisted they were given no reason for Makwala being denied entry.
“It depends whose fault it was,” said Van Niekerk, when asked what he would have done.
“There’s a lot of fingers being pointed, I just know he’s ill and in a different hotel than I’m in.
“I would have loved him to have the opportunity. He was in great form, I believe he would have done very well. I have so much sympathy for him.
“I wish I could give him my medal but it’s sport and these things happen.
“It could have been any one of us. It’s a journey and life, we all have tough times and we have to get back up and fight harder.
“It was a definitely a heartbreaking moment. I saw him just before the 200m heat and the only thing I could think of was wrapping my arms around him and telling him to get well soon.”
Without Makwala, Van Niekerk was never challenged, with Gardiner of the Bahamas almost half a second behind in 44.41 secs and Haroun third in 44.48s.