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Van Niekerk set to up the pace, Manyonga an injury doubt

Athletics

JOHANNESBURG – Looking to conquer all the sprint events, world 400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk will line up in his first international 100m in Velenje, Slovenia on Tuesday night.

Van Niekerk has demonstrated incredible versatility in the 100, 200, and 400m and is the only man to have posted sub-10, -20, and -44 times over all three distances respectively.

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Wayde van Niekerk leads the field to win the Men's 200 meters at the Boston Games Street Meet in June. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

The South African sprinting sensation will go into the race with a season’s best 10.04 seconds, which he posted at the national championships in Potchefstroom.

Van Niekerk has been ripping up the track in the 200m this season, boasting a world-leading and South African record time of 19.84 seconds posted recently in Kingston, Jamaica.

He has been flying below the radar in his specialist one-lap sprint this season and will get into the blocks in the 300m at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting at the end of the month before lining up in his first international 400m race of the season in Lausanne in July.

Van Niekerk will look to dip below 10 seconds for the second time in his career after he first achieved that in Bloemfontein last year clocking a personal best of 9.98.

He will line up in heat with fellow South Africans Emile Erasmus and former national record-holder Henricho Bruintjies.

Bruintjies seems to be coming into form after he posted a season’s best of 10.06 seconds in Finland a week ago while Erasmus is also showing good form.

It was Bruintjies’ fastest time since he set a South African record of 9.97 in Switzerland in July 2015.

Women’s 100-200m champion Alyssa Conley will open her international campaign with Tamzin Thomas joining her in the short sprint.

Rikenette Steenkamp, who won her first international race of the season in Herouville, France last week with a creditable 13.13 will also be in action.

Meanwhile, South Africans will be waiting with bated breath on news that long jump phenom Luvo Manyonga did not seriously injure himself at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting on Sunday evening.

Manyonga landed awkwardly on his final attempt, clutching his ankle in pain and he is expected to be assessed back in South Africa.

The Olympic silver medallist’s agent, Lee-Roy Newton, said in a statement they expected to get news on the injury by Wednesday.

“At this stage, I will certainly hesitate to use the word injured. I have spoken to him afterwards and although he is in slight pain I am confident that it is nothing serious,” Newton said.

“However, when he is back at Tuks/HPC he will definitely go for a scan just to make a 100 percent sure.

“We certainly don’t want to be taking any chances before the World Championships in London as our main goal for the season is to win a medal, preferably gold.”

Manyonga won the competition with an opening jump of 8.36m with fellow South African Ruswahl Samaai claiming silver with a best attempt of 8.29m.

The Star

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