Cape Town - He’s going to run just the 400m at the Rio Olympics, but world champion Wayde van Niekerk has shown he still has the speed to run quickly in the shorter sprints with a blistering 100m time at the South African Student Championships in Polokwane.
On the opening day of competition on Friday, Van Niekerk equalled his personal best of 9.98 seconds in the semi-final, but the time wasn’t official as a tail-wind reading was over the legal limit at plus-four metres per second.
That would’ve been just two one-hundredths of a second off Akani Simbine’s national mark of 9.96. But Van Niekerk produced another scintillating race in the 100m final on Friday, clocked 10.03, which was an official time as the wind was under the legal limit of two metres per second.
The 23-year-old, competing for the University of the Free State, easily outclassed Tuks’ Emile Erasmus in second (10.26), while another Tuks athlete in Thando Roto took the bronze medal with 10.30.
Van Niekerk is unlikely to run during May at all, as he told Independent Media after the SA Senior Championships in Stellenbosch recently that he needed to spend time with his books as he is completing a degree in marketing. His next assignment will be a training camp with Usain Bolt’s team in Jamaica at the start of June.
Caster Semenya wasn’t far behind in the performance stakes either, as she is trying to emulate her hat trick of titles from the SA Senior Championships by racing in the 400m, 800m and 1 500m events.
She took the first two steps on Friday by winning the 400m in 52.52 and the 1 500m in 4:31.12, well short of her times at the SA nationals, but Semenya is using these races as part of her build-up for the Diamond League season ahead of the Olympics.
The North-West University athlete will run in the 800m on Saturday, and then move on to the first Diamond League meet of the season in Doha, Qatar next Friday, May 6.
Other notable results from the first day’s action in Polokwane saw national long jump champion Ruswahl Samaai taking the students’ prize with a leap of 7.93m, while in the women’s triple jump, Patience Ntshingila produced a new SA record of 13.90m, but the mark was not an official record as a wind reading wasn’t taken.
In the men’s 400m, in the absence of Van Niekerk, North-West University’s Pieter Conradie broke 46 seconds to claim the title in 45.86, not far behind the Olympic qualifying time of 45.40.