Bloemfontein – World 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk on Saturday realised his childhood dream of running sub-10 seconds in the 100m, and in the process became the first athlete to also dip below 20 seconds in the 200m, and 44 seconds in the 400m.
Van Niekerk joined the sub-10 second club at the Free State Championships in Bloemfontein where he won the short sprint in 9.98 seconds.
“It was definitely my goal for the day, I really wanted to do something special, and something different,” Van Niekerk said.
“Since I started doing athletics I’ve been trying to get that sub-10, so knowing I can finally realise my childhood dream is really something amazing.”
He is now the fourth South African to do so since Simon Magakwe became the first local athlete to achieve that feat.
South African 100m record holder Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies followed in Magakwe’s footsteps with the duo sharing the national mark of 9.97 seconds for eight months.
Simbine lowered that mark by 0.01 seconds in the first leg of the ASA Nite Series in Pretoria on Tuesday in 9.96.
He was excited about Van Niekerk also adding his name to the club but it is something he had expected from the South African sprint phenomena.
“I always knew Wayde would go sub-10, it was just a matter of time, and tannie Ans (Botha, Van Niekerk’s coach) let him run the 100m this weekend and he did it. I am super happy for him,” Simbine said.
Van Niekerk pulled away from the rest of the field opening a sizeable gap dipping for the victory with Hlapo Rantebane finishing second in 10.48 and Hendrik Maartens in third with 10.55.
At last year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing, Van Niekerk posted the sixth fastest 400m time in history clocking 43.48 seconds.
Earlier in the year he became only the fourth person to dip below 20 seconds over the half-lap sprint and 44 seconds in the 400m.
“The start was surprisingly good, I think that gave me the motivation to push. Overall it was a good race,” Van Niekerk said about yesterday’s race.
“You don’t get as tired as you do in the 400m so I was looking forward to it.”
Simbine came close to posting another sub-10 second time in the 100m final at the Athletics Gauteng North Championships winning the race in a time of 10.01.
Bruintjies crossed the line in second place clocking 10.28 with Emile Erasmus bagging the bronze medal in 10.30.
On Friday, Simbine sprinted to an Olympic qualifying time of 20.29 seconds in the 200m event in the afternoon’s semi-final before withdrawing from yesterday’s final due to fatigue.
Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya posted a qualifying time in the 400m at the Athletics Central North West Championships in Potchefstroom yesterday.
Her time of 51.47 seconds indicates the former world champion is back to her best improving on her PB 52.21 she set only seven days before.
– The Sunday Independent