Van Niekerk finishes third to make final

Wayde van Niekerk, the world record holder, just made it to the 400m final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. He secured a spot despite finishing third in... Read more
Van Niekerk finishes third to make final

Wayde van Niekerk, the world record holder, just made it to the 400m final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

He secured a spot despite finishing third in his semi-final and qualifying through the non-automatic route. Van Niekerk, with a fastest time of 44.08sec this year, couldn’t replicate his Rio Olympics world record due to a fast start and missing his usual finishing kick.

In the same semi-final, Jamaica’s Antonio Watson (44.13) and American Vernon Norwood (44.26) claimed automatic qualifying positions with personal best times. Van Niekerk endured the “Queue Room,” where athletes wait to see if their times suffice for the fastest loser spots.

Ultimately, Van Niekerk secured his place in the final as no one from subsequent semis outperformed his time, expressing relief by hugging his rival Kirani James.

Teammate Zakithi Nene failed to advance in the third semi, even with Olympic champion Steven Gardiner’s injury. Nene finished fifth with a time of 45.64, far from his season’s best of 44.74.

Earlier, Marione Fourie, the 100m hurdler, secured a spot in Wednesday night’s semi-finals (starting at 8:45pm) by finishing third in her heat.

In her heat, won by American Nia Ali in 12.55, Fourie displayed composed running and executed her race well, clocking 12.71. This performance placed her among the top four qualifiers for the semis. Her time was just 0.16 off her personal best, achieved earlier this year.

On the flip side, compatriot Taylon Bieldt didn’t have the same fortune. In a heat led by former world record holder Kendra Harrison with a world-leading 12.24sec, Bieldt finished seventh in 13.05, quite far from her newly set personal best of 12.76 in June.

Zeney van der Walt, who participated in both the flat and hurdles 400m events at these championships, faced disappointment in her preferred event, the hurdles, after she was already eliminated in the 400m semis.

Photo: Jewel SAMAD / AFP

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