Event: Women’s Long Distances Date of birth: 1985/04/09 Personal bests: 800m (2:03.36),...
VAN NIEKERK WINS GOLD IN BEIJING
Wayde van Niekerk shone for Team SA on Wednesday, charging to victory in the men’s 400m final as he bagged the nation’s first medal on day five of the World Championships in Beijing.
The 23-year-old sprinter comfortably held off a late challenge from American LaShawn Merritt to win in 43.48 seconds, setting new South African, African and Commonwealth records as the fourth fastest man in history.
Merritt, a two-time world champion in the one-lap event, ended second in 43.65 and Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada secured the bronze medal in 43.78.
Van Niekerk’s performance may have been the highlight, but it was not the national team’s only impressive performance on day five as the squad enjoyed their best all-round effort at the championships thus far.
One-lap hurdler Wenda Nel, who had done well to reach her first World Championships final, took seventh place in 54.94.
Meanwhile, it was a near-flawless performance from the rest of the SA contingent in the qualifying rounds.
Sprinter Anaso Jobodwana improved his personal best by 0.03 to finish second in his 200m semifinal in 20.01, progressing as the third fastest athlete into Thursday’s final.
Akani Simbine (20.37) was knocked out ahead of the chase for medals.
Khotso Mokoena also booked his place in the triple jump final, making up for his disappointment after missing out on the long jump final on countback.
His best leap of 16.78m was enough to go through as the 10th-ranked qualifier.
Justine Palframan finished third in her 200m heat in 23.09, and 2009 world champion Caster Semenya set her fastest time in the last two seasons when she clocked 1:59.59 for third position in her 800m heat, with both athletes reaching the semifinals of their events.
Western Cape speedster Antonio Alkana was sixth in his 110m hurdles heat in 13.63, just 0.02 short of securing a place in the penultimate round.
* See our Results section for results of all finals, and visit our Flash News section for the schedule of SA athletes