Updated: August 15, 2016

Wayde van Niekerk charging to victory (photo credit: Roger Sedres/Image SA)

Wayde van Niekerk smashed the world 400m record in Rio on Sunday night (local time), setting the track alight at the Olympic Games.

The world champion went out hard and tore clear down the home straight to secure the gold medal in 43.03 seconds, taking 0.15 off the world record set by American Michael Johnson in 1999.

He held off defending champion Kirani James of Grenada, who took second place, by 0.73 for a comfortable victory.

“At this moment I’m just grateful for everything that has happened today,” Van Niekerk said.

“I just went out there to do my best tonight.”

Later in the evening session, SA 100m record holder Akani Simbine did well to take fifth place in the final of the short dash in 9.94, after clocking 9.98 to progress beyond the semifinals.

Jamaican star Usain Bolt won the 100m gold medal for the third straight edition of the Games, charging across the line in 9.81.

Earlier, in the morning session, it was a tough day out in warm conditions for South Africa’s marathon duo in the women’s 42km race.

With Irvette van Zyl sidelined by a foot injury, Lebo Phalula and Christine Kalmer took to the road to carry the SA flag over the classic distance.

Phalula finished 64th in 2:41:46 and Kalmer was 96th in 2:48:24, with Kenyan athlete Jemima Sumgong taking the gold medal in 2:24:04.