Cape Town - She's a hurdles specialist, but Zeney van der Walt could soon tackle the 400m flat event more regularly after producing a spectacular performance on Wednesday night.
The 22-year-old set a new 400m personal best of 50.81 seconds at the Athletics SA Grand Prix 1 at the Tuks Stadium in Pretoria, which was also a world championship qualifying time.
Her previous best was 51.41, so the significant improvement in her time shows that she means business ahead of the world championships in Budapest in August.
Van der Walt's effort was the sixth-fastest 400m time in SA history, and while she still has some way to go to chase down Caster Semenya’s 49.62 national record, she can go even faster if she runs the one-lap races more often.
But the 400m hurdles is her main event at the moment, and the speed work she's doing now will aid her quest to break Myrtle Bothma's long-standing SA record of 53.74.
The former world junior champion has a 400m hurdles personal best of 54.47, which she ran in claiming the bronze medal at last year's Commonwealth Games.
Having reached the semi-finals at the 2022 world championships in Eugene, Oregon, with a best time of 54.81, Van der Walt will hope to go one step further and make it to the final, where American Sydney McLaughlin is the queen with her incredible world record of 50.68.
In the men's 100m on Wednesday night, Kenyan star Ferdinand Omanyala cruised to victory as expected, but he wouldn't have been happy with his time of 10.12 seconds.
But he was hampered by a -1.2m/s headwind, and will hope for better conditions in the second ASA Grand Prix at the University of Johannesburg Athletics Stadium next Wednesday.
Other notable performances at the Tuks Stadium was Marioné Fourie's women's 100m hurdles victory in 13.01, Abderrahman Samba of Qatar winning the men's 400m in 45.37 and Egypt's Mostafa El Gamal pulling off a 76.87m effort in the men's hammer throw.