Aiming to make history in London by becoming the first man in 22 years to win the 200m/400m double at the IAAF World Championships, Wayde van Niekerk took another step forward on Wednesday night by booking his place in the final of the half-lap sprint.
Van Niekerk grabbed third place in his semifinal in 20.28, less than 24 hours after successfully defending his 400m title, progressing safely through to the medal decider, to be held on Thursday evening.
“I knew it would be a tough challenge, so to see my name in the final is a real pleasure,” Van Niekerk said.
“I’ve got time to recover now and give it my all in the final.”
While his close friend and compatriot made it through, Akani Simbine was unable to find top form in the cold and wet conditions, and he settled for seventh place in his semifinal in 20.62.
Earlier in the week, Simbine had done well to progress to the 100m final where he finished in fifth place, but with a niggling hip injury hampered by the conditions, he missed out on a place in the 200m contest.
Defending champion Wayde van Niekerk led the charge for In-Site athletes on Tuesday evening, storming to another impressive victory in the men’s 400m final and retaining his title on the fifth day of the IAAF World Championships in London.
Well clear down the home straight, with Wednesday’s 200m semifinals on the back of his mind, Van Niekerk eased off approaching the line but still won comfortably in 43.98 seconds.
He was 0.43 ahead of Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas, who took the silver medal.
“It is amazing to win the world title again,” Van Niekerk said after the race.
“It is a blessing and I hope the fans enjoyed that.”
Hoping to emulate American great Michael Johnson by winning the long-sprint double, Van Niekerk remained confident of his chances in the 200m event.
“I’m used to the lactic (acid in my legs) but I need to recover from that effort and I’ll be fine,” he said.
“I’ve got a good team who will help me recover well for the 200m and I’m looking forward to that.”
Earlier, World Student Games 400m champion Justine Palframan did well to progress beyond the first round of the women’s 200m event, taking fourth place in her race in 23.35.
She was set to compete again in the half-lap semifinals on Thursday.
Delivering a spectacular kick on the final lap, Caster Semenya chased down nearly the entire field to earn the bronze medal in the women’s 1 500m final on Monday night, on day four of the IAAF World Championships in London.
A relatively unknown prospect in the metric mile, the 800m specialist again displayed her remarkable talent across a variety of distances, dipping on the line to end third in 4:02.90 in a sprint finish.
“I’m really happy with the bronze,” said Semenya, who was due to chase another medal in the 800m event later in the week.
“Obviously a lot can not go your way in a final, so to come out with a bronze is amazing.
“I was hoping for a better time, but the 1 500m is a tactical race. I tried to find my own space but fortunately I managed to get away with the bronze.”
Earlier, in the men’s 200m heats, there was no trouble for sprinters Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine.
Van Niekerk won his first-round contest in 20.16 and Simbine, who had finished fifth in the 100m final despite battling with a hip niggle, cruised home in second place in his race in 20.26.
Both men qualified for the half-lap semifinals on Wednesday, with Van Niekerk also set to compete in the 400m final on Tuesday night. Lydia Jele of Botswana put up another brave fight in the women’s 400m semifinals, but she settled for fifth position in a fast race in 51.57 and was unable to find a place in the final.
Versatile sprinter Wayde van Niekerk will turn out in defence of his global 400m title on Tuesday night, after securing his place in what is expected to be a hard-fought final at the IAAF World Championships in London.
Van Niekerk, who lines up in the 200m heats on Monday, won his semifinal in 44.22, setting up a clash against a handful of world-class speedsters in the battle for the 400m medals.
Despite the stiff competition he had faced this season, he remained a dominant force in the one-lap event and was set to go into the blocks as the pre-race favourite.
“With all the rounds ahead of me, and all the running, I have to be conservative,” Van Niekerk said.
“With the quality of competition I am running against, it doesn’t make the job easy. I just have to take it step by step and hope for the best.”
In other disciplines, In-Site athletes had mixed results on day three of the biennial track and field showpiece.
After coasting through the heats, Antonio Alkana was unable to progress further, ending fourth in his 110m hurdles semifinal in 13.59 and narrowly missing out on a place in the final after a superb breakthrough season.
Lydia Jele of Botswana qualified for the penultimate round of the women’s 400m event, to be held on Monday, by finishing fourth in her first-round heat in 51.41.
SAMAAI EARNS WORLD CHAMPS BRONZE
Ruswahl Samaai was in top form on Saturday night, securing the bronze medal in the men’s long jump final on day two of the IAAF World Championships in London.
After climbing from fifth position to third with a leap of 8.27m in round five, he went on to reach 8.32m with his last attempt, joining countryman Luvo Manyonga on the podium in a historic event for South African athletics.
“I live for competition, and I struggled with a tight hamstring today, but before I jumped the 8.27, something shot in my mind, saying: You can do this. You have the ability to jump far,” Samaai said.
“I went back, relaxed, enjoyed the moment and it came, so I’m happy with the performance and the bronze medal.”
Meanwhile, after winning his 100m semifinal in 10.05 seconds, national record holder Akani Simbine grabbed fifth place in the final in 10.01, holding his own against the world’s best in track and field’s blue ribbon discipline.
“I’m really happy that I made it to the final and placed well. So I’m happy with the race,” Simbine said.
Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya progressed safely beyond the women’s 1 500m semifinals, taking third position in her race in 4:03.80.
She booked her spot in the final of the metric mile, to be held on Monday.
“The race was great. It was just about getting into the final and being safe, so we’re happy with the outcome,” Semenya said.
“Now it’s all about going back, resting and preparing for the final.”
It was a flawless opening session for In-Site athletes as a trio of international stars progressed safely through the opening rounds of their disciplines on Friday night, on the opening day of the IAAF World Championships in London.
Long jumper Ruswahl Samaai had to wait for his third attempt to secure automatic qualification for Saturday night’s final.
He had no trouble in the end, however, sailing out to 8.14m to book his spot in the medal decider.
“It took me till the third attempt but I can tell you, I needed this lesson to be ready for the final,” Samaai said.
“My last two years were like a rollercoaster. It was all ups and downs, injuries… and it was the injuries that kept me away from medals in the past. Now I am injury free, I feel blessed and I am ready to fly far.”
Middle-distance specialist Caster Semenya also started her campaign in style, finishing second in her 1 500m heat.
Running in cruise control down the home straight, she crossed the line in 4:02.84 to qualify for Saturday’s semifinals.
Sprinter Akani Simbine had a minor scare after taking fourth place in his 100m heat in 10.15, but he was able to breathe a comforting sigh of relief after registering the fastest time of the non-automatic qualifiers.
He will compete in the penultimate round on Saturday evening.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 20: Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrating her gold medal in the Women’s 800m race. Olympic Athletics August 20, 2016 at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by ©Christiaan Kotze/SASPA
Caster Semenya led the charge on Friday night, as In-Site athletes showed superb form in the build-up to the IAAF World Championships in London next month with fine performances at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
Semenya had to put up a fight to hold off a strong challenge from Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, storming across the line in 1:55.27 to break her South African 800m record of 1:55.28.
“I showed my strength but it was a hard fight to the end. The girls surprised me by how well they ran,” Semenya said, with four of the top five athletes clocking national bests.
Wayde van Niekerk, meanwhile, set a new meeting record to win the men’s 400m race in 43.73 seconds, surging past Isaac Makwala of Botswana down the home straight to take another confidence-boosting victory.
“It was a great performance today. I’m feeling positive about it,” Van Niekerk said.
“My body feels to be in great shape and this win from behind gives me a lot of confidence.”
In the men’s 100m race, Akani Simbine grabbed third place in 10.02 seconds, with Jamaican star Usain Bolt earning the win in 9.95.
“Again our athletes have proved they are medal contenders for the World Championships,” said Peet van Zyl of In-Site Athlete Management.
“We wish them well in their final preparations and we look forward to seeing them in action in London.”
Wayde van Niekerk was the star performer at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne on Thursday night, leading a trio of In-Site athletes as they put up a fight against the world’s best sprinters.
Pacing himself well in his first international 400m race of the season, the world record holder covered the one-lap distance in 43.62 seconds to secure another historic victory, taking 0.04 off the meeting record held by American great Michael Johnson which had been set 21 years earlier.
He also clocked the fastest ever 400m time at a Diamond League event, climbing to the top of the 2017 world rankings.
“The public was great. That really helps in an event like the 400m,” Van Niekerk said.
“It is my first race in Europe this year and my first 400m. I didn’t come with a specific time in mind but I am pleased with this result.”
Meanwhile, fellow sprinters Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies pushed their opponents to the line in the men’s 100m race.
Simbine finished third in 9.99, just 0.03 behind Justin Gatlin of the United States who took the win.
Bruintjies again proved he was in the best shape of his career, finishing sixth in 10.15.
“It’s important to be consistent in the build-up to the IAAF World Championships in London next month, and all three of these men are showing tremendous consistency,” said Peet van Zyl of In-Site Athlete Management.
“Well done to these athletes on delivering great performances once again. They have had superb seasons thus far, and I’m sure there is still plenty to come from all of them.”