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Impressive Van Niekerk eases into 400 semi-final

Van Niekerk

By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk boxed clever to book his spot in the semi-finals of the men’s 400-metre at the IAAF World Championships in London on Saturday morning.

While all around him the winners of the other five heats ran 45sec or quicker, it was Van Niekerk who spent the least amount of energy possible in winning his heat in 45.27 seconds.

That saw him go through to Sunday’s semi-finals as 16th quickest qualifier.

Quickest was Botswana’s Isaac Makwala in 44.55 as he led an African charge into the semis, with fellow Botswana athlete Baboloki Thebe also a heat winner with 44.82.

Van Niekerk looked imperious as he bided his time before a smooth injection down the back straight and into the final bend.

As he hit the final straight there was a tap of the accelerator which took him clear of the field, and he could afford to ease off in the final stages.

In the next heat, Van Niekerk’s compatriot, Pieter Conradie, failed to join him in the semi-finals as he ended seventh in the next heat with a time of 46.62sec. That put him 40th fastest of the heat entrants.

Final SA action of the morning saw Carina Horn going off in the 100m heats.

First three in each heat were guaranteed to progress, along with the next six fastest times. And Horn just snuck through via the automatic route in Heat 4 as she clocked 11.28sec in third.

That was just 0.02sec quicker than Switzerland’s Salome Kora in fourth.

She ended as 19th quickest qualifer, with Germany’s Gina Luckenemper a suprise fastest into the semi’s with a personal best 10.95 win in heat one.

Earlier, South Africa’s two strongmen, Orazio Cremona and Jaco Engelbrecht, both failed to make an impact in the shot put qualifying.

Throwing in Group A, Cremona’s best of the morning was a 19.81m effort, while Engelbrecht’s top throw was a 19.59m in Group B.

The duo proved some way off qualifying, with 20.55m being the shortest distance sufficient to make the final, as New Zealand’s Thomas Walsh’s 22.14m season’s best was the furthest throw.

The duo ended 23rd and 27th respectively in the qualifying round.

Picture of Van Niekerk cruising to victory in his heat courtesy of  Richard Heathcote/Getty Images. Picture of Horn in heat action and Cremona in qualifying courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA


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