The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VILLIERS

CON­QUER­ING ev­ery sprint dis­tance seems to be Wayde van Niek­erk’s cho­sen path to great­ness as he looks to claim the 300m world-best time when he com­petes in Os­trava tonight.

Boosted by his 400m world record and ti­tle-win­ning runs at the 2015 World Cham­pi­onships and Rio Olympics, Van Niek­erk has the free­dom and con­fi­dence to take on the shorter dis­tances.

He has per­sonal bests of 9.94 sec­onds in the 100m and 19.84 in the 200, and holds the world record of 43.03 in the 400. He is the only man to have gone un­der 10, 20 and 44sec for the three dis­tances.

Last year Van Niek­erk smashed his na­tional 300m record when he clocked 31.03sec in Kingston, Ja­maica, which launched him into third place on the world all-time list.

That time is a frac­tion off Ja­maican leg­end Usain Bolt’s time of 30.97, while Michael John­son tops the list with the 30.85 he set in Pre­to­ria in 2000.

If ev­ery­thing goes to plan, an­other record will change hands from John­son to Van Niek­erk and will re­tain a South African con­nec­tion, as Van Niek­erk’s re­cent form, par­tic­u­larly over 200m, sug­gests he could give John­son’s time a proper scare.

The South African last year im­proved his na­tional mark from 2015 by 0.60sec and will look to shave more than 0.18 off his best to erase an­other John­son record.

Ac­cord­ing to ath­let­ics statis­ti­cian and coach Pier­reJean Vazel, Van Niek­erk clocked 31.0sec at the 300m mark in his world record run in the one-lap sprint in Rio.

Lin­ing up next to Van Niek­erk, com­pa­triot Clarence Mun­yai hopes the Olympic cham­pion will drag him to the ju­nior world best.

Mun­yai holds the world lead over the rarely run dis­tance with the na­tional ju­nior best of 32.87 he posted at the Univer­sity of Johannesburg ear­lier this year.

Six South Africans will be in ac­tion in Os­trava in­clud­ing short-hur­dles spe­cial­ists Antonio Alkana and Rikenette Steenkamp, women’s sprint ace Alyssa Con­ley and Jaco Rozani.

Steenkamp re­cently came painstak­ingly close to dip­ping be­low 13 sec­onds in the 100m hur­dles in Ve­lenje, Slove­nia, where she won her race in a time of 13.03sec.

She fell just short of the B qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard of 12.98 for the world cham­pi­onships in Lon­don in Au­gust, but will have to break the SA record to meet the A stan­dard of 12.77.

Alkana will be look­ing to get close to the na­tional record of 13.11sec he set in Prague at the begin­ning of this month.

Con­ley is still chas­ing qual­i­fy­ing times over the short sprint dis­tances and will be tar­get­ing a 200m time of 22.65sec to book her place at the global show­piece in Lon­don in five weeks’ time. HOT OR NOT: Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, left, and Alexis Sanchez dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion ahead of their Fifa Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup semi-fi­nal clash against Por­tu­gal at the Cen­tral Sta­dium in Kazan, Rus­sia to­day.

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