The world 400m sprint champion, Wayde van Niekerk, of Bloemfontein, has run the fastest ever 200m race in South Africa during the recent CAA African Senior Championship held in Durban.
Van Niekerk, who is the only man in the world to have run a sub-10 100, a sub-20 200 and a sub-44 400, won the 200m sprint this past weekend in a time of 20.02 seconds.
Initially, Van Niekerk, was targeting the 19.87 seconds set by Anaso Jobodwana during the 2015 IAAF World Championship in Beijing, China.
The time comfortably sees him qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by nearly half a second with the qualifying stand for the event being 20.50 seconds.
Van Niekerk will, however, not be competing in the event at the global showpiece in August.
There was a slight tailwind in Durban, however, it was an acceptable 1,8m per second and the sprinter was quoted as saying he was just focusing on breaking the 200m record.
“I think I may have tried too hard to break the record,” said Van Niekerk.
“I didn’t feel the wind and just tried to run as hard as possible. I was just focused on carrying out my plan for the race.”
The championship in KwaZulu-Natal had a very special visitor with Lord Sebastian Coe being in attendance at the meet.
Van Niekerk got to meet the IAAF President for the first time in his life and says it was an honour to meet the world middle-distance great.
“It was an honour to meet the president of the IAAF after my race, but I was a bit tired.”
Meanwhile, South Africa’s other great hope for a gold medal at the Olympics, Caster Semenya, continued her great form this season by winning two gold medals.
On Friday evening she narrowly missed Zola Budd’s 32-year-old 1500m record (4:01.81) to clinch gold in a time of 04:01.99.
On Sunday she took the honours in the women’s 800m to win gold in a time of 1:58.20, and then went on to win gold for South Africa in the 4 x 400m relay in a time of 3:28.49.
Van Niekerk will soon be heading to Europe again where he will be switching to the 400m sprint for the Monaco leg of the IAAF Diamond League on 15 July.
Rynhardt van Rensburg, who attended the same alma mater as Van Niekerk, in his turn earned the bronze medal in the men’s 800m in a time of 1:46.15. – MORGAN PIEK