Wonderful Wayde: SA star breaks 300m record

29 June 2017 - 07:01 By DAVID ISAACSON
Wayde van Niekerk just after he broke the 300m world record at the IAAF World Challenge Zlata Tretra athletics tournament in Ostrava, Czech Republic last night.
Wayde van Niekerk just after he broke the 300m world record at the IAAF World Challenge Zlata Tretra athletics tournament in Ostrava, Czech Republic last night.
Image: AFP PHOTO

Wayde van Niekerk last night broke a second world-best belonging to legendary Michael Johnson, winning the 300m at the Golden Spike meet in Ostrava.

Van Niekerk, who obliterated Johnson's 400m world record with his 43.03sec blitz at the Rio Games last year, shaved four-hundredths of a second off Johnson's mark as he stopped the clock in 30.81sec.

Officially, it is not a record because the 300m marks are not ratified, but it is a world best.

Usain Bolt's 30.97 meet record was a distant memory by the time Van Niekerk cantered over the line, the South African star looking as if he still had plenty in the tank as he led six of the seven competitors behind him to personal bests.

Botswana's Isaac Makwala was second in 31.44, while Van Niekerk's young compatriot, matric pupil Clarence Munyai, was third in 31.61, a world junior best that smashed the 32.08 by Steve Lewis in 1988.

Van Niekerk is widely tipped to take the mantle as world's best sprinter when Bolt retires after the world championships in London in August.

In two years he has learnt how to produce the goods when it counts. After taking the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Van Niekerk has come out and picked off his main rivals.

In 2015 he knocked out Olympic champion Kirani James and world champion LaShawn Merritt before winning the world championships in Beijing that year.

In Rio he ran alone in lane eight to win gold in spectacular fashion.

It is hard to imagine what might possibly stop him now.

Van Niekerk will attempt to become the second man in history, after Johnson, to win the 200m-400m at the world championships.

He is the fastest in the world over 200m this year, and now the 300m.

Next week Van Niekerk will run his first international 400m of the season. Earlier, Rikenette Steenkamp recovered from a slow start in the 100m hurdles as she produced a fine technical display to take second place in a 12.99sec personal best.

She was just one-hundredth of a second off the world championship qualifying time stipulated by the sport's world governing body, the IAAF, but well off the 12.77 demanded by Athletics SA.

Antonio Alkana, by contrast, hit too many hurdles as he stuttered to fourth place in the 110m hurdles in 13.37, a time that falls within ASA's range for the global showpiece.

In the women's 200m, Alyssa Conley clocked 23.03 as she finished a distant second behind Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

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