Van Niekerk defends world 400m title

His bid for an audacious double is half completed as he also becomes only the second South African to defend a world title.

Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk ticked off the first of two blocks on his checklist on Tuesday night, shifting down the gears as he approached the line as he coasted to victory in the men’s 400m final at the IAAF World Championships in London.

The Olympic champion and world record holder successfully defended the global title he won in Beijing in 2015, becoming only the second South African athlete after high jumper Hestrie Cloete (in 2001 and 2003) to secure back-to-back crowns at the biennial showpiece.

Well clear of his opponents in the chase for the line, he shut himself down and cruised home in 43.98 seconds, with Steven Gardiner of Bahamas earning the silver medal in 44.41.

Van Niekerk secured South Africa’s fourth medal after five days of competition at the 10-day spectacle.

“I hope the fans enjoyed that,” said Van Niekerk, who was set to compete in the 200m semifinals on Wednesday.

“I’m used to the lactic (acid in my legs) but I need to recover from that effort and I’ll be fine.

“I’ve got a good team who will help me recover well for the 200m and I’m looking forward to that.”

Earlier in the evening session, Wenda Nel clocked 55.70 to finish third in her 400m hurdles semifinal and was eliminated ahead of the medal battle.

Justine Palframan took fourth place in her 200m heat in 23.35, booking her place in the semifinals.