South Africa: World 400m Champ Wayde Van Niekerk Finally Makes It to Olympics 2020

(file photo).
21 June 2021

Cape Town — Wayde Van Niekerk the World 400m champion, finally produced the goods with a qualifying time of 44.56 at a World Athletics Continental Tour event in Madrid on June 19, 2021 that will see him compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The 28-year-old Olympic champion and world record holder in the 400m, Van Niekerk has for the past few seasons been battling injury but now can prepare for his title defence in Japan.

The South African finished second as Colombia's Anthony Jose Zambrano won in 44.51 to also ensure an Olympic spot. Van Niekerk was 0.34 seconds inside the Olympic qualifying time. Up until this race, Van Niekerk had not yet made the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Games in either the 200m (20.24s) or 400m.

Unfortunately for South Africa's other Olympic champion, Caster Semenya, world record holder in the women's 800m, there was no such joy on the same night at a meet in Germany. The two-time 800m gold medalist was chasing qualification in the 5,000m in Regensburg, Germany, and needed a time of 15 minutes and 10 seconds (15:10.00) to make it to Tokyo. But the 30-year-old was unable to reach that mark, finishing fourth in a time of 15:57.12. Semenya will give the 5,000m another shot in a meet in Belgium on June 30, 2021.

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