South Africa’s golden boy of the track, Wayde van Niekerk, added another South African record to his collection in Kingston, Jamaica, late on Saturday night. MARK ETHERIDGE reports.
Running the second Racers Grand Prix event, the Bloemfontein blitz clocked 19.84 seconds for the victory, beating 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Rasheed Dwyer by a whopping 0.27sec.
Van Niekerk started from lane four and led the way around the bend before opening the gap even further before looking to ease up over the final 10m.
Van Niekerk’s new SA record beats 2012 Olympic 200m finalist Anaso Jobodwana’s old mark by 0.03sec.
It was also a nice new personal best for Olympic 400m gold medallist Van Niekerk, whose previous best was the 19.90sec when he won this year’s national title in Potchefstroom two months ago.
‘This is a positive step forward, but I know there’s still quite of bit of work to be done,’ Van Niekerk told Reuters.
Van Niekerk, whose new best is also a world-leader for 2017, now owns the 200, 300 and 400m national marks.
There was more silverware for South Africa when the country’s other sprint record-holder, Akani Simbine, came second in the 100m.
The national 100m champion ran 10sec dead, which was just 0.03sec behind the host nation’s Yohan Blake.
Blake’s fellow Jamaican, eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt ran his final race on home soil on Saturday, clocking 10.03sec in what he admitted was an extremely nervous event. Bolt intends retiring after next month’s IAAF World Championships in London.
Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana complimented Van Niekerk on his new mark.
‘What a wonderful performance. Looks like Wayde is on the roll here.
‘Since announcing that he wants to contest the short sprints seriously this year, he has been on an onslaught.
‘The exploits of Simbine cannot go unnoticed. His consistency has made everyone sit up and worry about what’s coming at the IAAF World Championships in August. Congratulations to all athletes and their coaches. Your hard work is coming together.’
Picture of Van Niekerk courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner
You may also like