Wayde, Akani cruise into semis
Van Nikerek on course for 200/400m gold double, Munyai is disqualified
IN A SHOW of confidence,Wayde van Niekerk glanced and smiled at British sprinter Daniel Talbot to his right before crossing the line to book a lane in tomorrow evening’s 200m semifinals at the IAAF World Championships here.
He will be joined by close friend Akani Simbine — who featured in Saturday evening’s dramatic 100m final where he finished in fifth place in a time of 10.01 seconds.
The South African took one giant leap towards realising his dream of winning the 200/400m double gold at the championships after qualifying into tonight’s 400m for his world-title defence.
Van Niekerk effortlessly sailed out of the bend and into the straight with Talbot staying with him every step of the way with the duo crossing the line practically holding hands in 20.16 seconds.
The South African came into the championships with the second fastest time this year with the national record of 19.84 seconds at the Racers Grand Prix in Jamaica in June.
The world 400m world record-holder knocked 0.03 off 2015 world bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana’s previous South African record.
Van Niekerk got a shot in the arm in his pursuit of the golden double after Motswana dangerman Isaac Makwala pulled out of the half-lap sprint heats.
Makwala held the lead with the 19.77 he posted in Madrid last month.
Van Niekerk is attempting to become the first man since American icon Michael Johnson at Gothenburg 1995 to win the 200/400m double gold.
Simbine, has been battling with a hip impingement and there were doubts he would line up in the 200m race.
The South African 100m record-holder nevertheless backed into the blocks and he breezed into the half-lap semifinal finishing second behind American Isiah Young of the United States in a time of 20.26.
“It is holding up, I’m getting treatment every day, so we are managing at the moment,” Simbine said. “The 200m for me is a more enjoyable race because I don’t have as much pressure as the 100m…I don’t put so much expectation on myself.
“I just said to my body ‘let’s go and run and see what you can put out’.”
Simbine said he was looking to go through the rounds in a healthy condition and held on to a glimmer of hope of sharing a podium with Van Niekerk.
It initially appeared as if South Africa would have three sprinters in the semi-final after national junior 200m record-holder Clarence Munyai crossed the line in third place in a time of 20.19 but he was disqualified for a lane violation.
The 19-year-old produced a performance that belied his years as he crossed the line shortly on the heels of Canada’s Aaron Brown and Nathaniel Mitchell-Brown of Great Britain in 20.08.
The TuksSport matriculant made his second appearance at a major championships after his debut in Rio last year.. EASY AS YOU LIKE: Britain’s Daniel Talbot, left, and Wayde van Niekerk both qualified for the 200m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championship yesterday. Van Niekerk will again be in action today, this time in the 400m final.