Wayde van Niekerk smashes 300m World Record
JOHANNESBURG: Vowing to produce the “ridiculous”, Wayde van Niekerk delivered on his promise as he smashed the 300m world record at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting with a time of 30.81 seconds last night.
In the process Van Niekerk erased yet another Michael Johnson world mark when he knocked 0.04sec off the time the American had set in Pretoria back in 2000.
Blitzing past Jamaican legend Usain Bolt and Johnson on the all-time list, Van Niekerk improved his previous African mark of 31.03sec.
Racing ahead of Bolt’s first European race of the season in the 100m at the same meeting last night, Van Niekerk also erased the Jamaican’s meet record in the 300m to signal a changing of the guard.
Lining up next to Van Niekerk, compatriot Clarence Munyai smashed his South African 300m junior mark in what appears to be a new world junior best of 31.61.
The previous world junior best of 32.08 held by America’s Steve Lewis’ was posted in a one-lap (400m) race.
Munyai took more than a second off the national junior best of 32.87 he clocked earlier this year.
On the eve of the meeting Van Niekerk told media he would take a stab at Johnson’s world best.
“It’s not really an official event, so I’m going to go out there and be ridiculous... I’ve got nothing to lose,” Van Niekerk said.
“It’s the only 300m of the year... I’ll try and give you a show.”
Van Niekerk is making a habit of erasing Johnson’s global marks -- he smashed American’s 400m record at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
He ran an incredible 43.03sec at the Olympics, knocking 0.15 off Johnson’s previous mark.
The South African is making the strongest possible statements that he is the heir apparent to Bolt’s throne as the world’s sprinting king.
Boasting personal bests of 9.94 seconds in the 100m and 19.84 in the 200m, Van Niekerk has proven his incredible ability over the shorter distances too. He is the only man to have gone under 10, 20, 31, and 44sec in the 100, 200, 300, and 400m distances.
It also proved to be a breakthrough evening for 100m hurdles ace Rikenette Steenkamp, who dipped below 13 seconds for the first time.
Steenkamp finished second in her short hurdles final, posting a new personal best of 12.99 to edge her within 0.05sec of Corien Botha’s national record.
She stopped the clock 0.01sec short of the A-qualifying time for the IAAF World Championships in London in August.
Steenkamp finished second behind Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz, who clocked a winning time of 12.72.
Earlier, female sprinter Alyssa Conley raced to second place in the half-lap sprint, posting a time of 23.03 seconds.
Conley finished behind Marie Ta Lou of Ivory Coast, who blew the competition off the track to cross in a time of 22.44sec.
For South African 110m hurdlers record-holder Antonio Alkana things did not quite go according to plan as he knocked the fifth hurdle before clipping the sixth, to finish in fourth place in 13.37sec.