Wayde, Akani cruise into semis

Van Nik­erek on course for 200/400m gold dou­ble, Mun­yai is dis­qual­i­fied

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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.

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