Courageous Wayde van Niekerk narrowly misses out on the double

The South African sprinting king scorches to silver in the 200m, becoming the first local athlete to win two medals at a World Champs.

Wayde van Niekerk made history on Thursday night at the IAAF World Championships, storming to the silver medal in the men’s 200m final in London.

After working hard off the bend, he charged across the line in 20.11, just 0.02 behind Ramil Guliyev of Turkey who secured the gold medal.

Though Van Niekerk, who defended his 400m title two days earlier, narrowly missed out on becoming only the second man to bag the long-sprint double after American legend Michael Johnson in Gothenburg in 1995, he became the first SA athlete to earn two individual medals at the same edition of the global showpiece.

His performance also lifted the nation’s tally to a record five medals (two gold, one silver and two bronze) after seven days of competition.

Earlier on day seven of the World Championships, women’s 800m favourite Caster Semenya cruised into Friday night’s semifinals, delivering another clinical tactical effort with a late burst to comfortably win her first-round heat in 2:01.34.

Perhaps South Africa’s last real medal hope at the biennial showpiece, the 1 500m bronze medallist looked strong, despite juggling a challenging schedule in the English capital as she too went in search of a rare double.

Former training partner Gena Lofstrand, who entered the 800m event after receiving an invite from the International Association of Athletics Federations to fill the lane draws, did well to join Semenya in the penultimate round.

Though she ended seventh in her heat in 2:01.73, Lofstrand was rewarded for going out hard and leading the first lap as she progressed on time to the penultimate round.

Sprinter Justine Palframan was seventh in her 200m semifinal in 23.21 and she was unable to find a place in the medal contest of the half-lap dash.