By Mark Etheridge
It may be an unusual distance but rising star Wayde van Niekerk celebrated a national and continental track record after Sunday’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, England.
Despite having to contend with a stiff headwind down the back straight, Van Niekerk blasted to victory in the seldom contested 300 metre event.
Normally a 200/400m runner, the Bloemfonteiner ran 31.63sec to clip 0.11sec off Ivory Coast athlete Gabriel Tiacoh’s old mark of 31.74sec, set in La Coruna, Spain, 29 years ago. Tiacoh died of meningitis at the youthful age of 29 in the United States in 1992.
Going off in lane three, Van Niekerk was comfortably ahead of second-placed Chris Brown, the Bahamian having run 31.99.
Next best South African at a meeting held under bright blue skies, was Stephen Mokoka who ran a fine third spot in the men’s 500m, clocking 13:20.22 as Kenyan Thomas Longosiwa won in 13:07.26 from compatriot Isaiah Koech (13:11.22).
Mokoka’s fellow South African, Elroy Gelant, missed the meeting due to visa problems.
The other South Africans in action were long jumpers Khotso Mokoena and Zarck Visser.
Neither found their best form though as Mokoena had to settle for fifth with an 8.10m effort with his second effort while Visser found a 7.74m best of the day, also with his second effort.
It seemed the second jumps featured best conditions as Olympic champion and winner on the day, Greg Rutherford’s best effort of 8.35m also came with his second jump.
It was a season’s best for the English athlete.