In Summary
  • Barring a calamity of gargantuan proportions, van Niekerk could even be pushed to a sub-43 world record time by in-form rivals Isaac Makwala of Botswana and Stephen Gardiner of The Bahamas.

From 11.50pm (Kenyan time) on Tuesday, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk will attempt to step into the huge shoes left by Jamaican sprints legend Usain Bolt as the poster boy of global athletics by winning the 400 metres final at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

Barring a calamity of gargantuan proportions, van Niekerk could even be pushed to a sub-43 world record time by in-form rivals Isaac Makwala of Botswana and Stephen Gardiner of The Bahamas.

Van Niekerk’s victory will be hot on the heels of the long jump gold and bronze medals won by South Africans Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai, respectively, on Saturday night.

“Mzansi” people could be celebrating another gold at the weekend in the women’s 800 metres where Caster Semenya remains hot favourite. These brilliant performances by the South Africans come hot on the heels of the last IAAF World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi where the “rainbow nation” won the overall title with five gold medals, three silver and as many bronze.

We all remember the triumphs by Tsenolo Lemao (boys’ 100 metres), Retshidisitswe Mlenga (boys’ 200m), Sokwakhana Zazini (boys’ 400m hurdles), Breyton Poole (boys’ high jump) and Zeney van der Walt (girls’ 400m hurdles).

These performances, that come at a time when Kenya will almost certainly lose the overall title at the World Championships here, should worry us.

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