Cape Town - World
400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk surged to a best 200m time
this year of 19.90 seconds in winning the South African championships
title in Potchefstroom Saturday.
Van Niekerk set the track alight, dipping below 20 seconds for the second time with a career best.
The previous fastest 200m time this year was 19.95 from another South
African, Akani Simbine, who beat Van Niekerk to win the 100m title
Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt holds the world record with a 19.19 run.
Knocking 0.05 off his previous best has strengthened Van Niekerk’s
resolve to pursue the 100-200m double at the world championships in
London during August.
"It is such a soothing feeling knowing I put down a solid time and
also getting revenge for yesterday (finishing second in the 100m final)
also feels quite good," Van Niekerk said.
"It is a long season so I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself -
the goals are the world championships and the European season."
Van Niekerk beat Rio Olympic Games 100m finalist Simbine and world
200m junior silver medalist Gift Leotlela to the line after a blistering
Simbine raced home in 20.15 with Leotlela third in 20.20.
South African sprinters occupy the top five times in the world in the 200m this year with Van Niekerk spearheading the charge.
Rio Olympics long jump silver medalist Luvo Manyonga improved his
South African and African record by three centimetres with opening leap
of 8.65m before retiring due to a groin injury.
The leap catapulted Manyonga to 11th in the world all-time best list and earned him his maiden senior national title.
Ruswahl Samaai finished second with the second best jump in the world this year of 8.49m.
"This is how it feels to be a champ - it is special and it looks
like it is now an everyday thing where it is an African record on the
first jump," former drug addict Manyonga said.
"Finally, I got the gold medal, but there is more coming. The focus
wasn't on the South African champs - the bigger picture is the world
"It is my record and I will be the person to break it again."
Olympic women's 800m champion Caster Semenya raced to a golden double
in the 400m and 800m with times of 51.60 and 2:01.03 to defend both
"I would have preferred dipping below two minutes but I still have
the South African student championships where I can do that while I will
play around with speed in the 400m," Semenya said.