CAPE TOWN – It was a bit of a nervy start for Wayde van Niekerk at the IAAF World Championships in London on Saturday morning.
It is not as if he was too stretched in his first-round heat, but there was a bit of confusion when the starter ordered the field to stand up.
On the TV pictures, it appeared as if Van Niekerk may have moved a bit early, as there was a long pause following the “set” call. But it was Frenchman Teddy Atine-Venel in lane 4, right next to Van Niekerk in lane 5, who was given a warning with a green card.
Van Niekerk, sporting a fresh “fader” haircut, took it in his stride though, like the champion he is.
The 25-year-old eased out of the blocks, in contrast to his usual fast start, and cruised for the first 150 metres or so as Nery Barnes of Costa Rica flew into the lead.
But the 400m Olympic champion quickly moved up and past Yoandys Lescay of Cuba on his outside at the 200m mark, and opened up the taps a bit on home straight to leave Barnes in his wake before slowing down in the last 50m to win in a time of 45.27 seconds.
The next step for Van Niekerk is the semi-finals on Sunday night at 8.40pm. The other South African 400m entrant, Pieter Conradie, didn’t make it through to the semis after finishing seventh in his heat with 46.62.
There was early disappointment in the men’s shot put on Saturday for South Africa, though, as both Orazio Cremona (19.81m) and Jaco Engelbrecht (19.59m) failed to advance to the final.
Later today, the likes of Caster Semenya (1 500m) and Akani Simbine will be in action.
SA Athletes Today
12.45pm: Carina Horn – 100m heats
8.05pm: Akani Simbine – 100m semi-finals
8.35pm: Caster Semenya – 1 500m semi-finals
9.05pm: Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai – long jump final
10.45pm: Akani Simbine – 100m final (if he qualifies)