Johannesburg - After smashing the South African 300m record at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting on Sunday, sprinting sensation Wayde van Niekerk will return to the venue where he set the national mark in the 400m a year ago.
Van Niekerk launched himself into 10th place on the world all-time list in the 300m with a time of 31.63 seconds to shave 0.52 seconds off Morne Nagel’s record from 2006.
In the process he also broke the African record of 31.74 held by Ivorian Gabriel Tiacoh since 1986.
American sprinting legend Michael Johnson still holds the world record of 30.85 he set in Pretoria in 2000.
“I picked up where I left off last year and the goal is definitely to improve from last year,” Van Niekerk said.
“I’ve been working very hard to have a better European season compared to last year.”
Van Niekerk continues to make serious strides in world track athletics after he smashed the 15-year-old South African record in the men’s 400m sprint at the Diamond League meeting in New York last year June.
Van Niekerk finished the race in second place in a time of 44.38s, smashing the national mark of 44.59 jointly held by Arnaud Malherbe (set in Roodepoort in March 1999) and Hendrik Mokganyetsi (in Yokohama in September 2000).
On Sunday he will return to New York where he will be looking to move up the rankings in the one-lap sprint ahead of this year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Meanwhile, Tuks athlete Henricho Bruintjies also added his name to growing list of rising South African sprinters when he posted a personal best of 10.06s at the Josef Odlozil Memorial in Prague on Monday which is the fastest by a South African in Europe and at sea level.
This time if the fastest this year with Akani Simbine following with the 10.08 he ran in Rome over the weekend.
He beat South African 200m record holder Anaso Jobodwana, who posted a season’s best time of 10.13s for second place while Ogho-Oghene Egwero of Nigeria was in third in 10.30.
Bruintjies’ coach Hennie Kriel said the fast time did not come as a complete surprise as he the athlete had shown serious potential over the last few years.
“It probably came a little bit earlier than I had expected but Henrico is a very positive person and he has known for a long time that this is what he wants to do. I expect more from him so I am very excited,” Kriel said.
Kriel said it was also no surprise that a host of talented young South African sprinters coming and the next challenge was for athletes to consistently run sub-10 second 100m races.
“We have to get below 10 seconds and I think we need to start shifting that barrier,” Kriel said.
“There are also a number of youngsters coming through and a there is a movement taking root.”