South African Athletics

Van Niekerk leads strong SA contingent in Lausanne

2017-07-06 07:00
Wayde van Niekerk (Gallo)

Cape Town - World record holder Wayde van Niekerk will lead a strong contingent of six South Africans at the eighth leg of the Diamond League Series in Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday night.

Having displayed superb form over shorter distances this year, including a national 200m record (19.84)* and 300m world best (30.81), Van Niekerk will enter the men's 400m race as the firm favourite, despite turning out in his first top-flight one-lap race of the season.

He will be aware, however, of a potential challenge from a double-pronged Botswana attack which will be launched by Isaac Makwala and 20-year-old sensation Baboloki Thebe.

"I know I'm in good shape over every distance below 400m, so I'm looking forward to seeing where I am with the 400m," Van Niekerk said on Wednesday.

"I want to go out there, put my best foot forward and put on a good show."

In other disciplines, two of the country's sub-10 athletes are in the start lists for the men's 100m sprint. Olympic finalist Akani Simbine, who again displayed good form by clocking 9.99 (100m) and 20.21 (200m) at a meeting in Hungary on Tuesday night, will go onto the blocks alongside former national champion Henricho Bruintjies.

They will meet a field which features American powerhouse Justin Gatlin and African champion Ben Youssef Meite of the Ivory Coast.

The nation will also be represented by two athletes in the men's 400m hurdles contest. Commonwealth champion Cornel Fredericks and SA record holder LJ van Zyl will turn out in a line-up spearheaded by American Bershawn Jackson.

Sunette Viljoen, the only SA representative in a field event in Lausanne, is among the favourites for a podium place in the women's javelin.

Six of the nine other women in the field have thrown further than the African record holder's 63.49m season best, but Viljoen will be eager to make a statement ahead of next month's IAAF World Championships in London where she goes in search of a third career medal.

She faces the likes of Czech world record holder Barbora Spotakova and Olympic champion Sara Kolak of Croatia.

Schedule of SA athletes in Lausanne (SA time):

19:40 - Sunette Viljoen (Javelin women)

20:54 - Cornel Fredericks and LJ van Zyl (400m hurdles men)

21:20 - Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies (100m men)

21:40 - Wayde van Niekerk (400m men)

* All records are subject to standard ratification processes

Read more on:    wayde van niekerk  |  athletics
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