Athletics-Van Niekerk finally qualifies to defend Olympic 400m title


FILE PHOTO: South Africa's 400m Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk looks on as he attends South African Championships in Germiston, South Africa, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Olympic 400m champions Wayde van Niekerk belatedly confirmed he will defend his title at the Tokyo Games, finishing inside the qualifying time in Madrid on Saturday.

Beset by injury since his Rio heroics five years ago, the South African ran 44.56 at the Continental Tour event at Estadio Vallehermoso to finish 0.34 seconds inside the qualifying time, although he was runner-up to Colombia's Anthony Jose Zambrano.

It was the first time the world record holder had run under 45 seconds for four years but he has barely competed since being injured in a charity touch rugby game in October 2017

Van Niekerk, who smashed Michael Johnson's 400m world record at the 2016 Rio Olympics to claim gold in 43.03, moved last month to train in the United States under sprint mentor Lance Brauman, who has had him concentrating on the 200m.

But a bid to qualify for 200m in Boston last month saw him pull up before the finish line, sparking more concerns about his fitness.

Van Niekerk, however, said at the time it was only precautionary and has since told reporters he is excited and optimistic about the year.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In Athletics

Olympics-Athletics-Poland win first 4x400m mixed relay gold
Olympics-Athletics-Thompson-Herah leads Jamaican sweep of women's 100m
Olympics-Athletics-Sweden's Stahl wins men's discus gold
Olympics-Athletics-100m favourite Bromell sneaks through as fast loser
Olympics-Athletics-Britain's Asher-Smith out of Games due to injury
Olympics-Athletics-Jamaica's Fraser-Pryce fastest in women's 100m semis
Olympics-Athletics-Kenyan sprinter Otieno tests positive for banned substance
Olympics-Athletics-Ethiopia lauds Barega's stunning 10,000m win
Olympics-Athletics-Triumvirate keep 400m women's hurdles showdown on track
Olympics-Athletics-Post-Bolt era in 100m begins in Tokyo

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers