Team SA booked three semifinal places on the second day of the IAAF World Championships with 400m star Wayde van Niekerk, Wenda Nel (400m hurdles) and Carina Horn (100m), all grabbing automatic qualifiers in their respective events at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing this morning.
Van Niekerk comfortably won his heat in 44.43 seconds while Nel clocked 54.45 seconds for second place and Horn finished third in 11.08 seconds in their heats.
Early in the day, race walker Lebogang Shange came 11th to set a new SA record time of 1:21:43 in the 20km. His performance was the best by a South African walker post-isolation and it was the second time that he had broken the 20km walk national mark.
He has now set five SA records this year, having also achieved the same feat in the 3000m, 5000m and the 20 000m.
His time at China championships also met the qualifying standard for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the fourth time he posted the required time since the qualifying window period opened.
“I am looking ahead and I’ve got the speed to carry on. Next up is the African Games [in Brazzaville, Congo next month] and I’ll go on a month’s off from there,” he said.
But it was heartbreak for South Africans in some of the other events at the morning session.
Mid distance runner Berend Koekemoer finished last in the 800m heats while shot putters Jaco Engelbrecht and Orazio were eliminated during their qualification rounds. The two finished among the bottom four.
What they said and when to watch them again:
Van Niekerk: “The guys were on me and I had to push in the last 100m. This is the World Championships and I can’t be holding back.”
Next event: 400m semifinals tomorrow (2.05pm, SA time)
Nel: “I had to pull something harder to reach the semifinals. I really want to be in the final. I am in good shape and ready for it. I’m here to enjoy myself.”
Next event: 400m hurdles semifinals tomorrow (1.10pm SA time)
Horn: “The track is fast and the conditions are good to run the [SA] record in the semifinals.”
Horn holds the current national women’s 110m record time of 11.06 seconds that she equalled last month.
Next event: 100m semifinals tomorrow (1.40pm SA time)