Wayde van Niekerk File Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Conquering every sprint distance seems to be Wayde van Niekerk’s chosen path to greatness as he looks to claim the 300m world-best time when he competes in Ostrava on Wednesday night.

Boosted by his 400m world record and title-winning runs at the 2015 World Championships and Rio Olympics, Van Niekerk has the freedom and confidence to take on the shorter distances.

He has personal bests of 9.94 seconds in the 100m and 19.84 in the 200, and holds the world record of 43.03 in the 400. He is the only man to have gone under 10, 20 and 44sec for the three distances.

Last year Van Niekerk smashed his national 300m record when he clocked 31.03sec in Kingston, Jamaica, which launched him into third place on the world all-time list.

That time is a fraction off Jamaican legend Usain Bolt’s time of 30.97, while Michael Johnson tops the list with the 30.85 he set in Pretoria in 2000.

If everything goes to plan, another record will change hands from Johnson to Van Niekerk and will retain a South African connection, as Van Niekerk’s recent form, particularly over 200m, suggests he could give Johnson’s time a proper scare.

The South African last year improved his national mark from 2015 by 0.60sec and will look to shave more than 0.18 off his best to erase another Johnson record.

According to athletics statistician and coach Pierre-Jean Vazel, Van Niekerk clocked 31.0sec at the 300m mark in his world record run in the one-lap sprint in Rio.

Lining up next to Van Niekerk, compatriot Clarence Munyai hopes the Olympic champion will drag him to the junior world best.

Munyai holds the world lead over the rarely run distance with the national junior best of 32.87 he posted at the University of Johannesburg earlier this year.

Six South Africans will be in action in Ostrava including short-hurdles specialists Antonio Alkana and Rikenette Steenkamp, women’s sprint ace Alyssa Conley and Jaco Rozani.

Steenkamp recently came painstakingly close to dipping below 13 seconds in the 100m hurdles in Velenje, Slovenia, where she won her race in a time of 13.03sec.

She fell just short of the B qualifying standard of 12.98 for the world championships in London in August, but will have to break the SA record to meet the A standard of 12.77.

Alkana will be looking to get close to the national record of 13.11sec he set in Prague at the beginning of this month.

Conley is still chasing qualifying times over the short sprint distances and will be targeting a 200m time of 22.65sec to book her place at the global showpiece in London in five weeks' time.


The Star

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